Woman on Wine with Amy Reiley
This month’s column is a sentimental choice for me. The wineries of Santa Barbara County were profoundly affected by the recent wildfires and mudslides. Although, unlike the Northern California fires, the wineries themselves were, for the most part, far from the fire lines. But the impact to the community and the economy was devastating for those in and around this gem of a wine region.
That’s why I’ve chosen to make the wineries of Santa Barbara County my Valentines. The region’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are among the best in the world.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the “sexy styles”
Many vintners, critics, and wine lovers call Chardonnay and Pinot the two sexiest styles of wine. In fact, the late Dr. Max Lake, a vintner and authority on the topic as well as one of my mentors, studied these wines specifically. He found that certain aromas found in Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs replicate those of human pheromones. That’s right–Santa Barbara’s signature wines can get you turned on–with just a whiff!
Here’s just a taste of what the wineries of Santa Barbara County have in store for your next romantic evening.
2015 Alma Rosa Winery El Jabali Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
Wow! This wine is bold yet elegant, gripping yet creamy across the tongue. A fascinating study in contradictions and delights, it offers fresh aromas of lemongrass. On the tongue there’s ample apple and pear fruit with a hint of licorice sneaking in.
2016 Cordon Chardonnay L’Or de Salomon Pico, Santa Maria Valley
If you think you don’t like Chardonnay, try this one. Its pretty wildflower aromas are as good as a bouquet of flowers. It’s a really nicely balanced wine that offers flavors of dried pear, delightfully biting acidity and a hint of toast.
2014 Bonaccorsi Wine Company Pence Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
Bonaccorsi is easily one of my favorite Santa Barbara wineries and probably one of my favorite American producers of Pinot, period. The Pence is one of their “prettier” wines. It offers beautiful flavors of fresh raspberry that come on stronger as the wine rolls to the back of the tongue. Its beautiful flavors linger long after the glass is drained.
2014 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
If you like ‘em big, this is your wine. On the nose it offers sexy notes of bramble and dust. Once it passes your lips, prepare yourself for a full-on assault to your taste buds of cherry, black currant and blackberry fruit with an indefinable earthy, dirty something lingering on the fringes.
2014 Mail Road Wines Mt. Carmel Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills
Full disclosure: you have to get on the winery’s mailing list to get these wines. But here’s why you’ll want to: this perfectly balanced Pinot offers soft, pretty rose petal aromas then surprises you with a complex medley of flavors. There are notes of cherry, bramble, and black currant that practically dance across the tongue with vibrant acidity.
2015 Pali Wine Company Huntington Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
Most of Santa Barbara’s great Chardonnays and Pinots are on the pricy side. I included this wine because it gives you a taste of great SB fruit with a price tag under $25. Delightfully sophisticated for the price, it offers cherry and boysenberry fruit, hints of cocoa and loads of spice.
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