I was supposed to meet Peter Hunken at the vineyard, but a mix up in the previous appointment location (I thought I was going to meet Rob Fry of Au Bon Climat/Qupe at the tasting room in Solvang and he was almost an hour away at the winery.) threw me way off schedule. Peter was very understanding and arranged for a tasting, on another day, for us at the tasting room with Katie McGaughy, Direct Sales Manager. The wines along with very brief notes:

2005 L'Avian: 98% Roussanne, 2% Sauvignon Blanc, $28, big buttery, viscous, 89

2003 Poetry in Red: Syrah, Sangiovese, Grenache, a hint of strawberry on the nose, berry flavors

2004 Limestone Hill Cuvee: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, this has been discontinued, uninspired, 83

2004 Sangiovese: dark fruit nose, as good as most Italian incarnations, 89

2003 Nebbiolo: Stolpman is selling off these grapes from now on for good reason, 83

2004 Estate Syrah: 5% Grenache, baked fruit nose, rich, complex, delicious, can only get better, 93+

I found the Sangiovese, a varietal I just can't love, surprisingly good. The Estate Syrah was so good, my wife insisted I buy some to take to dinner. My rating on the Roussanne might be a little low if it develops some complexity with a little age. Definitely worth a visit when you are in the area.
Original Post
we're pretty much in agreement with Stolpman... killer Syrah, too bad you didnt get to taste the Hilltops, its even better then the Estate

i too like the Sangiovese... and i dont know why so many wineries in the area try to make traditional Bordeaux blends as a miniscule few do it well, and i think are anamoly's for the area
quote:
Originally posted by kumazam:
i dont know why so many wineries in the area try to make traditional Bordeaux blends as a miniscule few do it well, and i think are anamoly's for the area


That is the golden comment right there Kum. Bordeaux varietals, as a general rule, simply do not do well in this region. They are almost universally green, herbal and nasty.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Beckmen, Lincourt, and Gainey make good Cabs in the 89 point range. Carharrt makes a good Merlot. Carina makes an excellent 67% Cab 33% Syrah.

theres others even farther north, Castoro Cellars has a mertiage blend called Due Mila that can be decent, and EOS can also make enjoyable Merlot & Cabs... and of course Justin in Paso Robles, but like i said, very few do it well (most all are fruit out of Santa Ynez), and when you compare to the other varietals they produce the Bordeaux blends are by no means the standouts... not to mention, most are priced @ $30+

Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills, & Santa Ynez is land for Burgundy & Rhone varietals... if i want a decent Cab or Merlot for $30, the Central Coast is not on my list of places to look
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
I forgot to mention- Carina uses grapes from Howell Mountain.


You beat me to it, I was going to mention that. When we tasted it last year, we were not surprised to hear that. Yes there are exceptions and some are drinkable, but as a general rule, it is simply not a good idea in this region, IMO.

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