Santa Maria Valley: Low Profile, Cool Climate Excellence

looking toward northern end of Santa Maria Valley from Bien Nacido

looking toward northern end of Santa Maria Valley from Bien Nacido

Santa Maria Valley is the country’s third oldest official wine appellation, producing distinctive, balanced, cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. So why do marketing consultants advise producers here that they need to highlight Santa Barbara County and/or California on their labels? Because, sadly, the vast majority of consumers don’t know where Santa Maria Valley is or why it’s so special.

This alluvial plain that was once an extensive bay extending inland from the ocean is bounded on two sides by mountains in one of the most geographically unusual orientations in all of North America. These mountains run east to west, unlike any other coastal mountains on the West Coast, not including Alaska. As a result, they funnel in a steady stream of cold ocean air from the Santa Barbara coast.

Thanks to this funnel effect, the region is typically blanketed with ocean fog all evening through mid-morning, and the temperature averages a mild 64 degrees. The growing season, an average of 125 days, is longer than pretty much anywhere in the nation. As a result, grapes that like it cool—the Burgundy varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the Rhone variety Syrah—can really excel here, slowly developing complex flavors and retaining great natural acidity. The ocean air influence also seems to impart a sense of salinity to many of the wines, much like the ocean breezes do in nearby Santa Rita Hills. That makes these wines a little more savory than their counterparts from elsewhere and delightful for pairing with food.

The vineyards here are planted on hillsides, elevated plateaus or along the river benches of the Santa Maria and Sisquoc Rivers. The soils range from clay loam to sandy loam, with good drainage. Rainfall generally averages only about 14 inches annually—and it’s been significantly less than that for the last couple of years. Yields also tend to be low due to cool Spring temperatures, which affect fruit set, causing the vines to produce fewer clusters with greater flavor intensity.

Viticulturalist Jim Stollberg with 40-year-old vines at Riverbench

Viticulturalist Jim Stollberg with 40-year-old vines at Riverbench

So why aren’t the wines of this appellation better known? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the vast majority of vineyard acreage here has long been owned by just a handful of companies, who originally planted and sold their crop mainly to well known producers in Northern California. That includes Kendall-Jackson’s 1500-acre Cambria Vineyard, the 950-acre North Canyon Vineyard long a source for Beringer, and the giant White Hills Vineyard, recently sold to a large Midwestern agricultural group.

One very large vineyard that has, by contrast, done a lot to raise the visibility and quality standards of this region is the justly famous Bien Nacido Vineyards.

Bien Nacido

In 1969, brothers Stephen and Robert Miller, the fourth generation of a California farming family, purchased two neighboring parcels totaling over 2,000 acres that were once part of the Rancho Tepesquet Mexican land grant. They began planting grapes there in 1973 with the help of pioneering area grape grower Dale Hampton.

In an unusual move, the first 300 acres were planted entirely with certified virus free increase block from U.C. Davis rather than the more typical planting with cuttings from other vineyards. These vines were also planted on their own rootstock. Most of the initial plantings were Pommard and Martini clones of Pinot, and clone 4 of Chardonnay. Trial plantings of Bordeaux varieties did not perform so well in this cool climate, so those were soon grafted over to Chardonnay and Pinot. There was also some Riesling and Gewurztraminer planted early on, which reportedly made some great wine, but for which there proved to be no market. Those vines have since been grafted over as well.

Even the market for Pinot Noir was very weak in the vineyard’s early years. The Millers sold a lot of their Chardonnay in the late ‘70s to sparkling wine producers in the north, insisting that they take some Pinot Noir along with the Chardonnay they were buying.

The Miller Family, owners of Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards

The Miller Family, owners of Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards

Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat was an early purchaser of the Millers’ Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, and based on the quality of his wines, the Millers agreed to allow him to use Bien Nacido as a vineyard designation. They also ultimately let him build his utilitarian winemaking facility, which houses both Au Bon Climat and Bob Lindquist’s Qupé, on property toward the northwestern end of Bien Nacido. Now grapes from about one-third of the vineyard—largely from blocks grown on slopes and hillsides, and older vineyard sections—are deemed eligible for vineyard designation, with the approval of the Millers.

Bien Nacido was the first cool climate vineyard in California in which Syrah was planted, at the urging of Bob Lindquist. He’s made excellent Syrah from these plantings for Qupé, and wrote a technical paper on cool climate Syrah that got the attention of other cool climate growers.

Bien Nacido is also renowned for planting custom blocks on behalf of a number of highly respected producers. This has included blocks for Sine Qua Non’s Manfred Krankl, hillside Syrah plantings for Maggie Harrison of Lillian, a block of nine different Pinot Noir clones for Foxen, and biodynamically cultivated plots for both Qupé and Bonny Doon. Bien Nacido grapes are sold to these customers not by the ton, as is the case for most growers, but by charging a flat rate for a particular area or rows, so the winemaker is free to crop the vines to whatever level they wish.

Bien Nacido now encompasses about 800 planted vineyard acres, and the nearby Solomon Hills Vineyards, which the Millers planted in 1999, contain another 100 acres of vines.

Winemaker Trey Fletcher and Vineyard Manager Chris Hammell at Bien Nacido

Winemaker Trey Fletcher and Vineyard Manager Chris Hammel at Bien Nacido

I toured Bien Nacido with Vineyard Manager Chris Hammell during my trip last month to Santa Barbara County. The tour amounted to a graphic history lesson on the development of California vineyard management over the past four decades.

This included the valley floor plantings of virus free increase stock with their solid steel posts; a hillside “amphitheater” of southwest facing Roussanne, clone 174 Syrah and Mount Eden selection Chardonnay; and blocks of Pinot Blanc—another cool climate loving grape that, despite performing quite well in this area, are being grafted over to Pinot Noir due to lack of demand.

Chris told me that the old vine Martini clone Pinot Noir, dating back to 1973, is in particularly high demand amongst buyers these days. There are about 20 acres of these grapes in Block N, and another eight or so in Block Q. Although this clone was disparaged in decades past as being the main culprit behind the herbaceous flavors sometimes found in Santa Maria Valley Pinot, the old vines have proven to be very drought and heat resistant, and to produce low, flavorful yields. The Martini also ripens at lower brix, resulting in lower alcohol levels, than the Dijon clones and Pommard.

Chris also showed me new plantings of Grenache he’s quite excited about–both Alban clone and Garnacha Tinta from Spain–in a sheltered, warmer area of the vineyard. The vineyard is also home to roughly 100 sheep and goats, a few donkeys and two dogs.

Besides wine grapes, about 10% of the vineyard area is devoted to other crops like avocados, Meyer lemons and blueberries. These crops and the different schedules at which they develop and ripen help the Millers keep a year-round labor force in place.

Bien Nacido blueberries

Bien Nacido blueberries (l to r: Spring High, Sapphire, Jewel)

The blueberries, by the way, are quite delicious. I got to sample three of the four varieties they grow—Jewel, Sapphire and Spring High–which are distributed by Driscoll’s (Bien Nacido and Oxnard are the first places in California where blueberries ripen in the Spring). Each variety is packed separately, although they’re not marketed by Driscoll under their variety names (apparently only in England can you buy particular varieties of blueberries).

The stewards of this admirably managed vineyard, the Millers, established Central Coast Wine Services in the late 1980s as a custom crush facility. The availability of this resource has helped incubate new wineries, as well as increase the local demand for Bien Nacido fruit. They more recently opened a similar operation in Paso Robles, where they also own the extensive French Camp Vineyards .

The latest vinous development for the Miller family is the production of small quantities of wine from their Santa Maria Valley vineyards under their own Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyard labels.

Initially Steve’s son Nicholas, who is the enterprise’s VP of sales and marketing (brother Marshall is on the operations and finance side of the business), made this wine working with consultants. In 2011, they hired Trey Fletcher, then assistant winemaker at Littorai and previously assistant winemaker at Domaine Alfred, to head the winemaking for both the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills labels.

I got to taste through the latest releases under those labels with Trey in the project’s aluminum sided winemaking facility. These are delicious wines with vibrant acidity that will add further luster to Bien Nacido’s already excellent reputation. The 2010 Bien Nacido Chardonnay and 2009 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir are particularly strong, while the 2009 Bien Nacido Syrah is an absolutely delicious and peppery cool climate Syrah.

Another reason for this appellation’s relatively low profile with consumers is that the area has been devoted much more to viticulture than to tourism. Until recently there were relatively few tasting rooms or facilities devoted to tourists here. That is changing in a dramatic way this year with a massive new winery, cave and visitor’s complex about to be completed at Presqu’ile.

Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile is the project of Matt Murphy and his family. The Murphys hail from Arkansas, where their Gulf Coast family compound, called Presqu’ile after the Creole phrase meaning “almost an island,” was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Presqu'ile's Matt Murphy

Presqu’ile’s Matt Murphy

Matt’s father and grandfather originally made money in the oil business. Matt had worked summers in Napa at Signorello starting in 2004, and moved to California in 2006. The family had been involved in wine ventures through partnerships, including the now basically defunct Ambullneo Winery (succeeded by Greg Linn Wines) where Matt met South African Dieter Cronje. Dieter became Matt’s best friend and the winemaker for Presqu’ile when that project began with the purchase of 173 acres on a hill in the cool southern end of Santa Maria Valley in 2007.

They have so far planted 65 of the 173 acres at Presqu’ile, and purchased an additional 10.5 acres of Pinot Noir planted in 2001 that lay adjacent to the property.

The land here was previously occupied by a gladiola bulb and cut-flower farm. Working with vineyard manager Jim Stollberg, Matt and Dieter planned the vineyards to ensure each grape variety was planted in multiple locations, row directions and spacing, with multiple clones and rootstocks. Both Matt and Dieter are Burgundy collectors and fanatics, so the plantings are primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with some Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and an acre of Matt’s next favorite grape after Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo. They have also made wine from purchased grapes, including grapes sourced from the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards.

Presqu'ile winemaker Dieter Conje with La Fenêtre owner/winemaker Josh Klapper

Presqu’ile winemaker Dieter Conje with La Fenêtre owner/winemaker Josh Klapper

Their first commercial vintage was 2009. I got to taste wines from both the 2010 and 2011 vintages, and I think it’s clear they’ve been quick learners, as I found the 2011 bottlings were all superior to their 2010 counterparts. The standouts for me were the 2011 Chardonnay from their first harvest of the new plantings and the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, both relatively good values at $35 and $22 respectively. The Pinot Noirs, which have substantial whole cluster inclusion (Matt and Dieter are big fans of Burgundy’s Dujac, which is heavy on stem inclusion) have a lot of stemmy tannins that will need a few years of bottle age to integrate.

The new winery and visitor complex, which was still under construction when I visited and which is scheduled for a June 20 opening, is breathtaking. There’s truly nothing else like it in the appellation.

Riverbench

Riverbench is another longtime Santa Maria vineyard source that has more recently gotten into the winemaking business since the vineyard was purchased in 2004 by a group of local families. One can also now visit and taste the wines in their Santa Maria Valley tasting room, open daily in a newly restored Craftsman style house, or at their brand new tasting room in Santa Barbara’s trendy Funk Zone.

The Riverbench Vineyard, where 260 acres are now planted, includes 120 acres of old vines planted in 1973—50 acres of Martini clone Pinot Noir and 70 of Chardonnay. New plantings of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier were added in 2007.

Chuck Ortmann of Meridian was the original winemaker, starting with the 2006 vintage. After Chuck announced his retirement in 2011, Clarissa Nagy, formerly assistant winemaker at Longoria and the Bonnacorsi winemaker since 2006, came on board as winemaker. The vineyard manager since 2006 is the same Jim Stollberg who is also vineyard manager at Presqu’ile.

I particularly liked the Riverbench unoaked 2011 Bedrock Chardonnay and the 2010 Mesa Pinot Noir, from a block of own-rooted Martini clone planted in 1973. They also make a small quantity of very respectable sparkling wine.

With the new developments at these three Santa Maria producers, I expect the appellation’s profile will soon be rising. Savvy wine buyers already know that Bien Nacido on the label is a signal that the wine inside is bound to be good. Other producers who are making wonderful wines highly worthy of consumers’ attention from grapes grown in this region include Chanin, Foxen, La Fenêtre, Paul Lato, Summerland and Tyler.

For my tasting notes on all the wines I tasted from these producers, along with notes on current releases from other producers based on Bien Nacido grapes, see below.

Bien Nacido Vineyards
Bien Nacido Syrah

  • 2010 Solomon Hills Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (4/2/2013)
    Light yellow color; appealing, tart pear, white jasmine nose; tasty, tart pear, mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (13.9% alcohol; 33% new oak) 91 points
  • 2010 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Light yellow color; ripe pear, light poached pear, butter poached pear nose; tasty, light-medium bodied, light footed, tart pear, mineral palate with light salinity and vibrant acidity; medium-plus finish 92+ points (14.1% alcohol; 60% new French oak; all from Bien Nacido’s Block W planted to clone 4; ideal pairing with oysters, scallops, calamari) 92 points
  • 2009 Solomon Hills Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Dark black-tinged red violet color; appealing, tart cherry, saline, floral, light sandalwood nose; youthful, tight, tart black cherry, light sandalwood, spice palate with good acidity; could use 2-plus years for development; medium-plus finish (30% new oak; 16 mos on lees; about 1//3 each Pommard, 115 and 667 clones) 92 points
  • 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Black-tinged medium dark red violet color; dried roses, tart cherry, cranberry nose; tasty, tart cranberry, tart cherry, rosehips palate with medium acidity, grip and character; could use 1-2 years; medium-plus finish (14.1% alcohol; old vine Pommard from Q Block, with small amounts from Block G and Block 40) 91+ points
  • 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyards Syrah Santa Maria Valley – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Opaque black red violet color; appealing, lifted, roasted black fruit, black and white pepper,charcoal nose; tight, tasty, tart roasted black fruit, black and white pepper, mineral palate with purity and salinity; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish (14.5% alcohol; from Block Z, with about 5% interplanted Viognier, planted in late 1980s) 93+ points

Presqu’ile
Presqu'ile wines

  • 2011 Presqu’ile Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (4/1/2013)
    Light yellow color; appealing, smoky, lemon grass, tart gooseberry nose; firm textured, tart gooseberry, tart citrus palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (60% malo; 6-7 mos on lees) 91+ points
  • 2011 Presqu’ile Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Light yellow color with lots of small SO2 bubbles; appealing, ripe pear, butter poached pear nose; tart apple, butter poached pear, mineral palate with good density and acidity; medium-plus finish (18 mos in neutral oak) 92 points
  • 2010 Presqu’ile Chardonnay – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Light yellow color; leesy, tart lemon, ripe pear nose; round, rich, creamy textured, ripe lemon, almond palate; medium finish (10% new oak) 90+ points
  • 2011 Presqu’ile Pinot Noir – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Dark cherry red color; lovely tart cherry, tart cranberry, sous bois nose; tasty, balanced, tart cranberry, mineral, sous bois, saline palate with medium acidity; ready now; medium-plus finish (60% whole cluster) 91+ points
  • 2010 Presqu’ile Pinot Noir – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Very dark cherry red color; tart berry, roasted plum, green pepper nose; soft mouthfeel, tart cranberry, sour cherry, green bean palate; medium finish (25% new oak) 90 points
  • 2010 Presqu’ile Pinot Noir Rimrock Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Pre-release (Fall ’13 release) – Very dark cherry red color; tart cranberry, sous bois, charcoal, sage nose; savory, textured, tart cranberry, roasted currant, sous bois, charcoal palate with medium acidity and firm tannins; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (100% whole cluster; clones 667 and 115) 91 points
  • 2010 Presqu’ile Pinot Noir Presqu’ile Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Dark red violet color; tart cranberry, roasted plum, dried berry nose; tasty, tart berry, dried berry, tart currant, light olive tapenade palate with firm tannins; needs 4-5 years; medium-plus finish (100% whole cluster; 18 mos in 30% new oak) 90+ points

Riverbench
Riverbench wines

  • 2010 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay Cork Jumper Blanc de Blancs Riverbench – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Light yellow color with speedy column of very tiny bubbles; lemon powder, tart apple, lime, tart pear nose; bright, tart pear, fresh cut lime, mineral, chalk palate with tangy acidity; medium-plus finish (12.5% alcohol) 89+ points
  • 2011 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay Bedrock Riverbench Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Bright canary yellow color; fresh, tart lemon, tart pear, honeysuckle nose; focused, clean, ripe lemon, tart pear, lightly saline palate with bright acidity; medium-plus finish (14.2% alcohol; stainless steel, 90% malolactic; 3.5 pH; great pairing with grilled shrimp or burrata) 91 points
  • 2010 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay Estate – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Light lemon yellow color; tart guava, green apple, pineapple nose; rich but poised, rounded, tart pineapple, ripe pear palate; medium finish (14.5% alcohol; 11 mos in French oak, 55% 1 year old; good pairing with white cream cheeses or lobster pot pie) 89 points
  • 2010 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Pinot Noir Estate – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Very dark cherry red color; ripe raspberry, tart cherry, rhubarb nose; tasty, sappy, tart cherry, ripe raspberry, berry jam palate; richly flavored but balanced with a dusting of milk chocolate; medium-plus finish (14.6% alcohol; mainly vines planted in 1973) 91 points
  • 2010 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Pinot Noir The Mesa Riverbench Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Dark red violet color; deep, black cherry, black raspberry, tart berry nose; rich, tasty, black fruit, black cherry, black raspberry, tart berry syrup palate; medium-plus finish (14.5% alcohol; 9 mos in oak, 7% new, 60% 1-yr-old; all own-rooted Martini clone) 92 points

Other Producers’ Bien Nacido Designate Wines

Gavin Chanin

Gavin Chanin

  • 2010 Anglim Viognier Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (3/25/2012)
    Very light green-tinged yellow color; tart pear, floral nose; tasty, tart pear, floral palate; medium-plus finish (very good Viognier) 91+ points
  • 2009 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Historic Vineyards Collection Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (4/6/2013)
    Light yellow color; appealing, butter poached pear, saline nose; tasty, tight, tart pear, mineral, saline, iodine, light hazelnut palate with good acidity; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish 92+ points
  • 2010 Chanin Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (2/4/2013)
    Light lemon yellow color with 1 millimeter clear meniscus; ripe pear, ripe lemon, pineapple, French oak nose; French oak on entry that should integrate in two years or so, tart pear, tart lemon, mineral, ripe grapefruit palate with medium acidity; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish (13.9% alcohol) 92+ points
  • 2011 Chanin Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (2/4/2013)
    Light canary yellow color; tart lemon, vanilla, lemon drop nose; tasty, rich, lemon drop, tart lemon palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points
  • 2011 Chanin Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (2/4/2013)
    Medium cherry red color; sous bois, rosehips nose; sous bois, rosehips, mineral palate with nice texture, balance and medium acidity; needs 3 years to fully integrate; medium-plus finish 92 points
  • 2011 Foxen Chardonnay Block UU Bien Nacido – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Light yellow color; butter, poached pear, butter sauce nose; juicy, ripe pear, tart apricot palate with a sense of salinity and good acidity; medium-plus finish 91 points
  • 2010 Foxen Pinot Noir Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Very dark ruby color; appealing, ripe black cherry, black raspberry, boysenberry, lifted nose; very appealing, tart black cherry, black raspberry palate with a sense of salinity; medium-plus finish 91+ points
  • 2010 La Fenêtre Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Light medium yellow color; golden delicious apple, tart pear nose; rich, ripe apple, pear, ripe lime palate with good, balancing acidity; medium-plus finish (14.5% alcohol; 18 mos in 25% new oak) 91 points
  • 2010 La Fenêtre Pinot Noir Old Vines Bien Nacido – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/1/2013)
    Dark cherry red color; ripe cherry, baked cherry, baked raspberry nose; tasty, balanced, rich, tart cherry, strawberry jam, ripe raspberry palate with good acidity; could use 2-plus years; medium-plus finish 92 points
  • 2009 Paul Lato Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/28/2012)
    Very dark purple red violet color; aromatic, charcoal, tart black fruit, blueberry nose; complex, charcoal, tart black fruit, blueberry palate; medium-plus finish 93 points
  • 2010 Paul Lato Syrah Il Padrino Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/28/2012)
    Dark ruby color; lifted, tart black fruit, ripe black fruit, pepper, graphite nose; tasty, intense, tart black fruit, pepper, violets, mineral palate; needs 3 years; long finish 93+ points
  • 2010 Qupé Chardonnay Y Block Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/9/2012)
    Light yellow color; focused, tart pear, poached pear nose; tasty, poached pear, tart pear, tart pineapple palate; medium-plus finish 91 points
  • 2009 Qupé Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (3/25/2012)
    Dark ruby color; roasted black fruit, smoke, savory nose; tasty, tart black fruit, roasted plum, mineral, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish 92 points
  • 2009 Summerland Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Block T – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Medium dark cherry red color; appealing, tart cherry, tart raspberry, floral nose; tasty, tart cherry, tart raspberry, light spice, light sandalwood palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (Martini and Pommard clone) 91 points
  • 2009 Summerland Pinot Noir Proprietors Reserve Bien Nacido Vineyards – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (4/2/2013)
    Dark cherry red color; roses, ripe cherry, berry syrup nose; tasty, tart cherry, tart raspberry, saline, roses, mineral palate with near medium acidity; medium-plus finish 92+ points
  • 2010 Twomey Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (11/11/2012)
    Very dark ruby color; rich, ripe cherry, ripe berry nose; tasty, tart cherry, tart berry, ripe raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (13.5% alcohol; sample provided by winery) 91+ points
  • 2010 Tyler Chardonnay Bien Nacido – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (2/4/2013)
    Lightly cloudy lemon yellow color; poached pear, hazelnut nose; tasty, rich, ripe pear, ripe lemon, pear cream, mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (from block planted in 1973) 93 points
  • 2010 Tyler Pinot Noir Q Block Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (3/19/2012)
    Medium dark cherry red color; focused, appealing, tart cherry, roses, rosehips nose; tasty, tart cherry, mineral, rosehips palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 93+ points
  • 2010 Tyler Pinot Noir N Block Bien Nacido Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (2/4/2013)
    Dark ruby color; appealing, ripe cherry, ripe raspberry, rose petals nose; lighter in structure than Tyler’s other 2010 Pinots, ripe cherry, ripe raspberry, rose petals, mineral, sous bois palate; medium-plus finish (13.7% alcohol) 92+ points
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2 Responses to Santa Maria Valley: Low Profile, Cool Climate Excellence

  1. Flying Goat Cellars launched it’s first vintage of Bien Nacido Pinot Noir in 2010 and it is the most popular Pinot Noir at the tasting room! We source from old vines in Block N, formerly sourced by Lane Tanner.

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