Conserve Water, Drink Wine
We started at Arthur Earl where the 2006 Viognier tasted like a peach tree with a little bark thrown in. Altogether a fruity, friendly wine, but, like most of its Olivos cousins, too fruity for my taste. I need some minerality and stoniness. The Rhone blend of Grenache, Counoise, Cinsaut and Syrah had a great nose with nice hints of vanilla in the flavor, but ultimately the lean mean taste of Counoise came through. The 2006 Tempranillo was a winner with a nose of cherry and Havana cigar.
Next a stop at Stolpman to pick up a wine club allocation for a friend. How agreeable the little red house just off the main street of Los Olivos . What a relief from the claustrophobic feel of the tasting room in Solvang surrounded by Scandinavian bric-a-brac stores - a Danish mortuary for great wine. The 2006 L'Avion has a deep golden color, almost russet, reminiscent of a big white Burgundy in style, structure and color, although, of course, the flavor profile is different since this is no Chardonnay, but a Rousanne with a touch of Viognier. The 2006 Grenache is beautiful, light and elegant - a good example of this style. We tasted two Syrahs, but the most interesting wine was the 2006 "La Croce" a cross between Syrah and Sangiovese. This seems to be a new trend in Los Olivos, the first of three such crosses.
Across the street at Carina Cellars we tasted wines created by winemaker Joe Tensley who also has his own line of wines. The 2007 Viognier had a subtle nose, followed by a round fruity peachy wine. Another fruity Viognier from Los Olivos. It's a style! We tasted several Syrahs - our favorites were the 2006 Terra Alta and the co-fermented 2006 "7 Percent" Syrah, that is, 7% Viognier, 93% Syrah.
At Coquelicot (kok - li -ko) Kerry very ably served up the offerings. The 2006 Estate Chardonnay was very light and perfumed - a good patio wine. The 2006 Estate Chardonnay was more classic, but still very fruity - flowers in a glass. The 2006 Estate Syrah tasted of roasted coffee. The very good 2006 Black Oak Vineyard Syrah was round balanced and flavorful. The 2006 "Mon Amour" Estate Bordeaux Blend was very lovable, round, fruity and perfumed - a come hither wine. The 2006 Estate Cabernet Franc was an odd C. F. with spice that might lead one to think of Syrah. The winemaker's notes say it tastes of roasted pasilla pepper, still an unusual , if not unpleasant, taste profile for a Cab Franc.
Qupe recently opened a new tasting room at the entrance to Los Olivos from the north. Stealthily manned by Ethan, one of owner Bob Lindquist's able winemaker sons, Ethan, quietly poured wines from Qupe, his father's wines, from Verdad, his step-mother's wines, and "Ethan" his own wines. He quietly recommended his brother Luke's wines at Tres Hermanas. The 2006 Verdad Rose was, good, but truly, the 2007 Verdad Albarino was even better. Fruitier than a Spanish Albarino, but still recognizable. The Qupe Roussanne was round and fruity, the Qupe Los Olivos Cuvee, a Syrah/Mourvedre blend, was light to medium-bodied, round, with good fruit. I have spent years searching for this wine in San Francisco ever since my son-in- law had a bottle and loved it. Ethan's 2006 Sangiovese was round, medium-bodied, and spicy - no lean mean Chianti, this one. Ethan's Cuvee Los Alamos Syrah was excellent, too. His father's Qupe 2006 Syrah from the Stolpman vineyard was really good, too, with a nose of black fruit and toast. In truth, this is a family of very talented winemakers. Es verdad! Truth telling even extends to the tasting notes offered. Just the facts, ma'am! Vineyards, grapes and ageing. That's it. No hype about "lead pencil and cassis." Just the data. They're not going to tell you what you "should" taste or try to influence you. You decide how it tastes to you and whether you like it or not. This is truly rare.
Since Longoria was just next door, I couldn't resist the opportunity to revisit an old friend. The 2007 Pinot Grigio was pleasantly balanced, the 2007 Cuvee June Rose was pleasingly dry. The nose of the 2006 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido, put me off, the nose of of the 2006 Clover Creek Syrah was toasty and appealing. The "06 Blues Cuvee was complex and jazzy. The 2006 Clover Creek Tempranillo was round, balanced and delish, but all of this was just a prelude to a mind-blowing wine - the 2006 Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is from Rick Longoria' only estate vineyard. I had only one thing to say about this wine - "Fantasic!" Like Miles in "Sideways," I have spent years searching for truly great Pinot and have only found a few bottles in Burgundy and a few more in Oregon that satisfy me. This one is spectacular and worth every penny of its $54 price point. Well, it looks like we only left a few hours for the Foxen Santa Maria area but that's better than last time.