Since 1962

My absolute FIRST exposure to Santa Barbara wines (and an urban winery before it was cool)–many, many years ago–and still a winner in every category. I revisit occasionally–just to make sure–and across their ridiculously inexpensive roster: never fails to please. Pale chalky transparency in the glass, a blackened ruby fading out to dusty red at the rim. Nose pitch-perfect California Pinot: ripe floral and berry laid down on earthy mustiness and muddy mire. Fruit a dirty plum and sullied cherry, graphite hinging on thick latex and smoky acidity apparent.

In the mouth, the 30-dollar Pinot sweepstakes make a move into areas ‘reserve’ bottlings double the price can not touch. This is often where pure typicitous beauty is found: do NOT be sucked into high prices when it comes to Pinot in California. With that said, this one’s a little chubby, showing ripeness beyond the variety’s true expression and even tertiary where 3YO wines should NOT be. It feels polished down, glycerin-y and rotund, the expression of acid a dull thud against fairly expressionless fruit. Thin of fruit and thin of complexity, it comes off increasingly savory–a bit too much so–while *things* supposed to be structure fall limply on hot ledges. The tannin blisters with fake-feeling Vitamin-c astringency against the salty finish of the cherry. Balance seems to have missed this vintage: everything feeling juxtaposed garishly against each other with hi-proof causing accumulated problems. I honestly think this might be an off bottle–though storage is pretty pristine–I just have never experienced anything *feeling* like this from this label. Still, pinot is not an easy shell to crack, and differences like this only add to its inability to go cookie-cutter-specific.

2019 SANTA BARBARA WINERY Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Santa Barbara Co. 14.5

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