Santa Barbara PIONEER TASTING Quick Hits

One of my favorite gatherings of the year–as it is limited in size and most of the stalwarts of Santa Barbara County pour.  Yesterday’s was no different.  There were a few absences glaring in their void, but overall everyone was well represented.  Just a few of my favorites:

This won’t be necessarily in order, but this was my frist wine of the afternoon.  Money-shot straight outa the hole!  Got Colson Canyon?  Nope, nobody does anymore–well, Tensley does–so when you see it, check the date.  This 03 was def my library wine of the day.  Just GORGEOUS.


Moved straight into the Qupe current releases.  I bounce back and forth between Sonnies and Hillside being my favorite Syrahs from this producer–today the HILLSIDE was SINGING!  But be warned: This is the most structured version I have tasted in some time, with fruit definitely back there but closed in.  This thing is going to take YEARS in the cellar.  Buy as many as you can afford and forget about them.


I know I’ve been hard on Hitching Post over the years–and I have my favorites–but when they hit, they HIT.  This Fiddlestix is stunning. One of the best current releases I have tasted from them in a long time.  Velvety and alive, fruit on 11, a nice Burgundy streak tempers the luscious dripping fruit.


FINALLY got to taste Lane Tanner’s Grenache!  She’s been promising it for months and BOOM! there is is.  This entire LUMEN lineup from her and Will Henry are right back to the roots Lane is famous for: Beautiful, sexy fruity wines that won’t break the bank.  The Grenache is everything you can ask for in the variety and fits in perfectly alongside the Pinots.


I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Cold Heaven’s Viogniers a couple times in the past, but none of that prepared me for the 2016.  You think you are in for a massive, buttery sweet oak bomb from the intoxicating nose and then you taste it: A streamlined acid-train so delicately emulsified into the soft fruit you are shocked at the contrast.  This is an absolute MUST-FIND.


Turns out this version of BOUCHET is MOSTLY cab.  My absolute favorite wine in the Brander lineup–and has been for decades.  Fruit so vibrant, so glowingly decadent but not over-stuffed or drowned in oak or concentration.  Ages BEAUTIFULLY (and I have wines from the 90’s to prove it) and NOT expensive, so another exhibit in the BUY ALL YOU CAN AFFORD category.

This is happening AGAIN in November 2019, this time down the street at PICO in Los Alamos.  This tasting is limited to 100 TICKETS, so don’t wait. See the line-up and get them here:

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