Hard to believe our 13’s are 8! Prolific–and quite under-the-radar–Pinot producer TANTARA occupies numerous slots in my cellar, and it’s always supremely interesting to pull the cork on one. Barrel-tasting with Rick is a daunting experience, with lot after endless lot coming down the ladder in thief–along with plenty of rapid-fire spicy tidbits of conversation nearly requiring subtitles concerning each glass sourced from all over the Central Coast. Try to keep up with this Kiwi!
Clear dark amber in the glass, a ruddy transparency starting ruby at the core and heading distinctly brick toward the wide clear rim. Full and rich in the nose, but not jammy or packed with heady fruit: rather, a toasty, carmelized dessert lavishness with a heart of graphite and match-head, side-accouterments of light green weediness, all encapsulated in savory, distinct Pinot heading into *age*. Copious dirty baby diaper and barnyard funk align themselves with the patinaed cherry, woodsy bark and wilted floral fulfilling its rather restrained goals.
In the mouth, more restraint is apparent. This wine isn’t going to blow up Sea-Smoke-bro’s skirt and Belle-Glos-dolly will characterize it as “weird” and “off-putting”. Probably “astringent” and “god-awful”. But that’s where people who appreciate true Pinot pick up the fight. Glowingly perfect, and despite its obvious ripeness: thin and easily expressive of where top-notch versions of this variety relax in their seamless awkwardness. Acid and bitter briar flow effortlessly into the grip of tannin, the polished berry never skipping a beat. Ridiculously Burgundian: citrus a moldy orange; oak a mellowing reducer; slight raisin firming the fruit. Get your hands on these if you can. PLENTY of old vintages always available.
2013 TANTARA Pinot Noir Zotovich Vyd Santa Rita Hills Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 14.9