Garagiste Festival 2.11.23

A few notes on my WINES OF THE DAY at the tasting today in Solvang. For those unaware, this is a small grouping of wineries producing less than 1500 cases a year. LOTS of good stuff, and I don’t mean to say these were necessarily the BEST wines at the event–just ones of particular merit I tasted. And I purposely skipped many producers because I am familiar with their products. I mean–Kimsey was there, and those wines are ridiculous. Dusty Nabor and Absolution were there, both favorites and well-versed on these pages. At an event like this, trying new things is important.

Number one has to go to Camins 2 Dreams Happy Canyon Santa Ynez Vineyard Carignane. This is a wine so delicious it leaves you nearly speechless: light and vibrant while packing gobs of goodness all around. Do NOT miss these wines at the upcoming Santa Barbara Women Winemaker Celebration.

My number 2 wine would easily be in the top spot if it weren’t for consistency. Herrman York‘s Rancho Cucamonga SALVADOR is made from a variety I have NO experience with and the amount of vegetal ire and distinct sweetness in the face of gorgeous, staining body is stunning. It frankly blew me away and the only reason it is not #1 is because the Zin Rose was oxidized, the *orange wine* was… well… doing those things only orange wine can do, and the red Zin was troubled with some issues. Being a stickler for consistency, I have to move this to second place. There’s only one barrel and he indicated almost nothing left for sale, but get on it.

#3 is easily Kris Beverly’s Civilization Wine Co Syrah from Ampelos Vineyard. Greasy, gritty angst in a suitably-ripe package packed with all those pinot-esque things which make good Syrah more like Pinot than most are comfortable with. This is a topic I cover regularly here, and this is an example right up there with the best of Sonoma Coast.

4 has to be one of the rare Cabs at the event: from Pine Mountain Vineyards all the way from the new Pine Mountain AVA in Mendocino County, this 14-9 monster has a nose I first considered to be a bit oak & flab but in the mouth a blistering cabernet arises. Decadent and ridiculously complex, layered with toe-curling structure and peppery texture–THIS is why I love Mendocino reds.

Rounding out the Top-5 is Trixon‘s barrel-aged Albarino from Gularte in Monterey County. This is not your standard Edna Valley offering, showing deep yellow amber and a powerful nose of wilted floral and candied fruit. This is a HUGE wine–sticklers to the variety may call it odd and wrong, but it is a big, wonderful Albarino.

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