Summer brings SLOwine‘s ROLL OUT THE BARRELS to San Luis Obispo and rarely does one get to almost exclusively roll through a good number of Edna Valley Pinot Noirs in one sitting. For me, the Edna Valley means several things: predominantly, massive over-ripe Syrahs and Grenaches from a couple vineyards in the South–YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE–and mellow, fairly un-complex Pinot Noir at a good price reminiscent of Monterey Co. or Carneros. But, like any region, there are sub-climate complexities going on, and the last decade has given rise to areas like Spanish Springs in Pismo Beach and Bassi Ranch in Avila Beach–two vineyards nearly in view of the ocean and on nearly every list of top cold-climate spots in California. Also noteworthy is the rapid accelleration of Albarino’s popularity–and one can NOT talk about New World Albarino without mentioning Edna Valley.
ROLL OUT THE BARRELS is an outdoor event, with music playing and people chatting–NOT the ideal setting for serious detailed tasting notes. Here are my quick scribblings on a fraction of the wines showing.
TOLOSA 1772 Pinot Noir Full ripe Pinot nuances ripe and oaky good upper crowd pleaser. Always felt this was a good one–head and shoulders above their regular offerings. I heard a rumor the ‘lab labels’ on all their special stuff are going away in favor of something a little more upbeat. Can’t wait to see them, but I am kinda fond of these no-nonsense labels. Lots of you put off Tolosa because of the ‘tourist wines’ they have in supermarkets but this label makes some SERIOUSLY good wine–it’s just club- or winery-only. And not cheap.
TOLOSA SELECT Pinot Noir This was one of the lushest roundest most beautiful things at the show. Apex Vineyard SLH full cinnamon and nutmeg. Look for it soon. No pictures please.
Newcomer to the scene, was really surprised how these two showed so differently. Quite polar bottles of wine and here are my unabridged scribblings:
CHENE 2013 Orange blossom and rind, big chunky mint and nice mellow oak. Miserably tannic in a good way. LOVE this wine.
CHENE 2014 Flabby round nothingness overt oak and dull fruit. I do not love this wine.
STEPHEN ROSS STONE CORRAL Pinot Noir SOOOO many Stone Corral’s in one place! This one didn’t wow. Strange minty doublemint twins nose. Bitter and weird, flat and flabby with thin Edna Valley fruit.
STEPHEN ROSS Grenache See? It’s not all Pinot! Quite nice thin light flowery dusty fruit, gobs of oak, thin and tannic. A gorgeous Grenache and possibly my first outside of Sawyer/Slidehill or Alban in the Edna Valley. Would love to get it on the blog one-on-one.
7ANGELS Pinot Noir Never heard of them, horrible label, no pictures, don’t know the vintage. Chalky uninspiring over-oaked flaccid stuff really uninteresting start-to-finish with mild tannin.
TALLY Pinot Noir Stone Corral Gamy and flat, thin and bright like Gamay, strange flat cardboard oak, bitter and thin. Again, another bottle I would love to sit down with by itself. Oregon? Is that you?!? Another winery cranking out 10,000 cases of $14.99 highly-marketed supermarket wine boring beyond belief, but at the winery there are 5 or 6 very special bottlings from around the area–and NOT cheap.
CHAMISAL Califa Oxidized and bad. In the mouth good acidity but you have to smell it first and that’s the part I couldn’t get past. There were lots of thin unfruited wines showing which borderlined on oxidized. Are some Edna Valley producers trying too hard to fluff things up to the ripeness and concentration of surrounding areas and losing varietal-correctness and specificity in the process?
CLAIRBORNE & CHURCHILL 2015 Gewürztraminer Opulent floral, disgustingly fruity petal tropical crisp and bright. A few *young* issues but otherwise a quite nice annual effort besting anything from the Central Coast and rivaling second-tier Anderson Valley producers. Solid B+ game stuff.
CLAIRBORNE & CHURCHILL 2014 Pinot Noir Classic All oak and a little VA. Flat and dull no acid no fruit harsh tannin.
CLAIRBORNE & CHURCHILL 2014 Twin Creeks Estate PN Thin and bright, nice cherry fruit blisteringly tannic and spicy pepper. Favorite of the show. I need this wine in my life. Not sure it’s even available for sale.
KYNSI Stone Corral All oak dark tobacco & licorice while surprisingly thin and vegetal, tart and nice tannin. An interesting Pinot which would be fun to get in front of me solo one-on-one in a controlled environment.
CENTER OF EFFORT Only tasted the Reserve because had the other so many times. Bright acid lots of oak dryingly harsh, meaty and bright nutty fruit. Easily one of the biggest PN’s at the show and probably in all of Edna Valley but still brilliant tannin and good acid. These are serious crowd-pleasing Pinots.
CLESI 2012 Sangiovese Boring thin and vapid and not interesting.
CLESI 2014 Nebbiolo Oxidized and flat not interesting.
FILLIPONI 2013 Mourvedre Paso Robles Good fruit, mouthfeel flat round, a lil rubberband on nose, sharp acidity spice in nose and nice tannin. Many Edna Valley producers source fruit from Paso Robles–stuff which doesn’t ideally grow in South County.
SINOR La VALLEE 2014 Flabby dark fruit, dry peppers. Jolly rancher, brilliant tannin but a little awkward. Need to re-visit in a controlled environment.
Sorry for the blurry pic, but in retrospect I think maybe I was trying to get out of here fast. WTF even is this?!!? They are not wines, they are Moltov Cocktails of battery acid and stewwed cat shit. This is something NO ONE should attempt to consume.
AUTRY CELLARS Petite Sirah Shockingly harsh brilliant knife-edged horridness. Flat dry flabby prune fruit like swallowing sandpaper after a nauseous gaseous volatile nose. Holy wow what a perfectly horrid bottle of wine.
AUTRY CELLARS Syrah Miserably artificially oaky and harsh, dead fruit and gasoline. No no no no no no no. WHAT IS THE ALCOHOL ON THESE THINGS?!?!?!?!? Don’t light a match. Bigger is not better, people.
VERDAD Sawyer Lindquist Pinot Noir 2014 from mag Solid earthy brilliant nuanced stuff but very ripe. Only thing deviating from the Edna style at every other table. Almost like tasting a SLH in a group of Mont Co. Brilliant layers of choc and leather. No overpowering oak. I’ve had all the Syrahs and Grenaches from this producer and many others’ from this vineyard but somehow had never visited the Pinot, so I aimed for this table.
VERDAD Sawyer Lindquist 2011 from mag Buggy and astringent and tired and awkward. Nutty *gone* Pinot with oxidation and fatigue. Really shocked.
WOLFF VINEYARDS Dijon Clones Pinot Noir Clean crisp, zesty lime and THE most Burgundian thing in the show–no surprise. Nice acid creamy buttery leather and earth. Perfectly tannic dusty floral. They make this wine year after year after year and it never goes out of style. Never the biggest or most overwhelming, never the ripest or deepest or darkest just pretty much exactly where you want to be at this price-point as a Pinot lover. Probably not going to woo the tourists, but the snob is going to sit up straight.
WOLFF VINEYARDS Syrah 2013 Lovely and bright, interesting toasted butter but still bright with a fat round floral hard to describe. No, I can describe it quite easily: Cote Rotie. Perfumed delicacy. Simple but elegant, never relying on copious concentration to get by like so many Syrahs in Edna Valley do, ahem.
WOLFF CAB BLEND interesting round and lovely beyond its price-point. Tannic and full fruited. You can do FAR worse on the Central Coast for $25. Was hard to taste in this setting and would love to visit it singularly.
This event happens late June every year and is an encredible opportunity to experience all Edna Valley and surrounding areas have to offer. In addition to the grand tasting in Mission Plaza downtown San Luis Obispo, three full days of events cover the region, with special passport food, music, cellar- and vineyard-tours and barrel-tasting at participating wineries. Tickets and info here: ROLL OUT THE BARRELS