Tag Archives: Brewer-Clifton

Sparkling wine for my real friends…..


I tried my first Sta Rita Hills vin clair chard from a barrel of one of the Sashi/Raj (SaRaj, perhaps?) projects, back in 2012 I think. It was sublime, to say the least. Tension in its full definition. The wine brought me plummeting back to the white chalky soils of Champagne. Without even trying one fully feremented bottle, I have complete confidence in what it’ll become.

At this year’s WOPN, Sea Smoke was pouring their Sea Spray (see what they did there?) it was perfect. A crisp blanc de noir, lovely tiny boules, wild strawberry on the nose and a palate cleansing finish.

Sea smoke sea spray

At a recent industry  tasting held at Palmina  I was able to try a few more local sparklers, sadly, there were only eight. This was due to a lot of the sparkling in the county not even being in bottle yet and also the tiny amounts producers even have. The following three were my top picks of the night.  Lucas & Lewellen Blanc de Noirs was my favorite on the night. Nectarines, apricot and brioche. Perfectly balanced. – $30 (great price) Summerland Winery Brut using Sonoma fruit was very crisp, and tasted of granny smiths and lime. $30 While Brewer-Cliftons straight Chard, from their own 3D vineyard, has more mouthfeel and a bit heavier with nutty, yeasty flavors and baked peach. You could age this one for 10 years or so. $50  

There is a sparkling future in Santa Barbara County and I really think Sta Rita Hills will be leading that pack. In a bit of a discussion afterwards I asked about price, as its expensive making this stuff and competing against Les Grand Marques, which I believe SB County can do against non-vintage stuff, but it will be no easy task.

However, a good point was brought up by Morgen McLaughlin, who heads up SB County Vintners Assoc no less, that if we consider the local sparkling producers like those of the grower Champagner movement, that SBC will more likely to shine.  In short, Santa Barbara County sparkling, and for me specifically Sta Rita Hills, is California’s answer to grower Champagne…..there you have it.

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Santa Barbara’s wine future starts now.


Printed in the Santa Barbara News-Press, May 6th, 2013. 

**UPDATE**

Brian McClintic has sent me this note, explaining there will be a postponement to the futures tasting.

Louis,

First of all, I wanted to thank you for the amazing support you’ve shown us.  The response has been overwhelming.  
With that, it has become apparent that our license will not cover an event of that size, taking into account the current state of construction.

For this reason we’re forced to postpone the tasting until August 10th.

Thanks,
Brian

The Santa Barbara wine futures program made famous by the Wine Cask, in El Paseo, is making its way back to our city. This time however you’ll be heading to the Funk Zone to taste some of Santa Barbara County’s best pre-release wines. Sommeliers Eric Railsback, 28 and Brian McClintic MS, 37, are restarting the program that will give you the opportunity to try and purchase over 50 different producers’ wines, before they are bottled, at the opening of their new wine bar and shop, Caveau, on the corner of Anacapa and Yanonali streets.

This will be a return to Santa Barbara for Railsback who graduated from Westmont College in 2007. While attending, he worked at the Wine Cask where he developed a taste for European wines. Since then, he has made quite a name for himself as a sommelier. Railsback has been up and down the state working for the likes of Chef Gordon Ramsay in Los Angeles and most recently heading up the wine program, for the Mina Group restaurant, RN74 in San Francisco. He’s also managed to stick in a few harvests in France, most notably at Domaine Dujac the famous Burgundian wine producer in Morey-Saint-Denis.

Eric Railsback and Brian McClintic MS

Eric Railsback (left) and Brian McClintic MS (right) – looking studious

You might recognize his business partner McClintic, as he was one of the sommeliers featured in the film SOMM that played at this year’s Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival. The film followed a group of sommeliers for a few years whilst they studied for the Master Sommelier exams, a qualification with a notoriously low pass rate (spoiler alert, McClintic passed). He will be the only Master Sommelier in Santa Barbara County.

The two are both very excited about their new venture and especially about the wines from the county.

“Santa Barbara wine country is way more exciting than Sonoma or Napa or any of those other places, just the potential, the terroir and everything, it’s pretty epic.” Says Railsback, who has been visiting the region off and on over the past few years and is making a wine under the label Lieu Dit, with local winemaker Justin Hewitt of Tyler Winery, since 2010.

McClintic too, really believes in the wines from the area. “Eric and I feel the same way about the wine from Santa Barbara, this is no joke and not a line, we without a question believe this is one of the most underrated terroirs in the country, if not the world. With the soil, the climate, the typography, everything included, Santa Barbara is incredibly underrated and it is an incredibly dynamic area, he says, “We are proud of the area and everything about our business serves to promote Santa Barbara County wine.”

Railsback and McClintic met in San Francisco a few years ago, McClintic was looking for a place to live and through a mutual friend, another sommelier Rajat Parr, was introduced to Railsback.

“What was supposed to be one week staying at his tiny studio flat, ended-up being nine weeks.” Recalls McClintic, it was somewhere in this time that the idea of Caveau was born.caveau site

The pair are modeling Caveau, which is being built in the new development that used to be Santa Barbara’s original fish market, on the Parisian wine bar. A place where you can have a glass of wine, a plate of charcuterie and cheese but also where you can purchase a bottle to take home. McClintic will also be teaching a wide variety of wine courses at the location, everything from beginners appreciation to how to blind taste. Wines sold will be from Santa Barbara County with a wide variety of European wine as well.

Doug Margerum, who started the original futures program in 1987, when his family owned the Wine Cask is happy the torch is being relit. “I am thrilled someone is re-championing it again, it’s really good for the wine community and really promotes the wines of this area to a broader audience. Eric is a superstar in the wine business as is his partner, Brian; I think they’ll do a great job. Santa Barbara County needs some advocates and these are the perfect guys to do it.”

Caveau’s Futures tasting will include: Alma Rosa, Alta Maria, Anacapa Vintners, Au Bon Climat, Barden, Barrack, Bien Nacido, Estate, Beckman, Bonaccorsi, Buoni Anni, Brewer-Clifton, Carlson, Cebada, Chanin, Clendenen Family Vineyards, Curtis, Goodland, Grassini, Habit, Happy Canyon Vineyards, Jaffurs, Kunin, La Fenetre, Lieu Dit, Margerum, Melville, Municipal Winemakers, My Essential Red, Native 9, The Ojai Vineyard, Palmina, Piedrasassi, Piocho, Qupé, Roark, Sandhi, Samsara, Sillix,, Stolpman, Storm, Tatomer, Tyler, Vallin, Verdad, Wenzlau, Zotovich Cellars

“We wanted a good balance of the old guard who started Santa Barbara County, like Adam Tolmach, Bob Lindquist and Jim Clendenen who have been doing it forever. And new smaller, up and coming wines that no one knows about.” Explains Railsback.Caveau Wine Bar Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting will be on Saturday May 18th August 10th at Caveau Wine Bar & Merchant.

131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
From 11am – 5pm

Tickets can be purchased for $70 at www.caveau.eventbrite.com
For more info contact either Eric Railsback or Brian McClintic at info@caveausb.com

Or call 1-503-314-4318

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