Sorry if half this post leaked out yesterday! Here's the whole post:
As much as I could hang out in Los Olivos all day, I had to run a couple of appointments I had made previously that were up in Buellton, so I grabbed a sandwich and headed out of town. First stop was to Alma Rosa, Richard Sanford's winery that I profiled in 2008. I was shocked to see how busy their tasting room was. By the look of the crowd, there were lots of people that had come up from Los Angeles to taste and knew Richard's wines from the Sanford days and followed him to his new venture. Like Foxen, there is a bit of tasting outside on the patio, and inside as well. It was nice on a spring day, but could be amazingly hot once summer comes. I was on my own here and didn't have too much time, so I tasted through their offerings pretty quickly. For vineyard info, check out their website. I have to say, that one reason this is a must-visit, is that they were selling some of their older vintages at fabulous prices at the tasting room. I was surprised to see that as of today, their 2006 Alma Rosa El-Jabali Vineyard Chardonnay is being sold on their site for only $16.00. I think the case price was $12 per bottle at the winery - either price is a steal for this quality of wine...but it's really ready to drink and not something to hold on to very long. Other favorites here were:
2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Gris La Encantada Vineyard - light and floral, this is a good summer quaff.
2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills - Very pretty wine with a brooding mid-palate. Great to accompany something on the grill.
2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard Clone 115 - This has a nice smokiness to it with generous dark spices.
2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard Clone 667 - Less smokey than the 115 and has better integration.
My final stop in the area was a visit to Morgan Clendenen's Cold Heaven. The last time I visited Jim Clendenen, he had told me about his ex-wife's passion for Viognier and I was anxious to check it out. I have also been reading about her collaboration with Yves Cuilleron from Condrieu --very unusual in California in general, but even more unusual to see in Santa Barbara County, where barely a French wine can be found! (except in the excellent small shop Bin 2860 in Los Olivos). I tasted here with Richard Bruce, cellar master and tasting room manager. I was pleased to see that Ms. Clendenen is branching out and doing some nice Pinots too, which I tasted in barrel. These should be something to seek out when they get released. The Deux C wine, which is a blend of California fruit and Condrieu fruit was unavailable to taste, unfortunately, but I do have a bottle that I will review at a later date.
Cold Heaven has a dizzying array of different styles of Viognier. Here were my favorites:
2008 Cold Heaven Viognier Le Bon Climat - Bone dry and has nervous vitality.
2006 Cold Heaven Viognier Saints and Sinners - Sanford & Benedict Vineyards. Is one of the collaborative efforts with M. Cuilleron, but with all California fruit. Smacks of honeysuckle and orange blossoms. Delicious and complex, ready to drink.
2005 Cold Heaven Late Harvest Viognier - A stunning California dessert wine. Not terribly sweet with beautiful floral and citrus flower scents. I had to buy one of these!