Saturday, February 02, 2008

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards wine tasting

Spending the weekend in Santa Barbara I decided to go to the Alma Rosa wine tasting at East Beach Wine Company last night. Stepping into the shop the place was packed and it took a minute before we reached the counter and could pay for two tastings and get our glasses. To our delight the owners, Thekla and Richard Sanford was there themselves, with their daughter Blakeney, to pour and talk to the customers. Nothing beats the opportunity to talk to either the owners or wine maker as you taste a winery's wine. Both Thekla and Richard where very nice and pleasant, and spent quite a bit of time with us. It was a true pleasure to talk to them, and you could tell how passionate and excited they are about their wines.

A short bio: Richard Sanford was the first to plant Pinot Noir in Santa Rita Hills in 1970. 1981 him and Thekla started Sanford Winery, and after parting with it in 2005, they founded Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards at the location of their old winery. All grapes are grown organically with sustainable agricultural methods.

The tasting started of with the Alma Rosa 2006 Santa Barbara County Pinot Gris. A light crisp white with pear, citrus and notes of honeysuckle. Nice acidity and minerals on the finish.
Next up was the Alma Rosa 2006 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Blanc. This wine showing creamy citrus in a dry, still very crisp wine.
The Alma Rosa 2006 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay was fermented in partially new French Oak and then aged in stainless steel tanks, not undergoing malolactic fermentation. I really enjoyed this clean, crisp chardonnay, with notes of tropical fruit. Perfect poured chilled a warm spring or summer day.
The Alama Rosa 2005 El Jabali Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay went through a different process. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in 20% new French Oak. The grapes comes from a older vineyard then the 2006 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and you can tell the difference. This wine is heavier/denser in the fruit on the palate, with ripe tropical fruit, white fragrant floral, and round oaky vanilla notes. Still on the lighter side and with good fresh acidity, but the first Chard was my favorite.
On to Pinot Noir, which is what I really came for.
The Alma Rosa 2005 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir has light bright fruit with raspberry, red cherry, and notes of oak/vanilla. All wrapped in good acidity and integrated, but slightly woody, tannins.
The Alma Rosa 2005 La Encantada Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir shows darker, deeper fruit with black raspberry, cherry, blueberry, herbs, and spice. While the 2005 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is made from all six clones in La Encantada vineyard this is only made from two of them. In this case resulting in a more concentrated Pinot.

Find all these wines at Alma Rosa's website.

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