Tag Archives: Piedrasassi

Don’t Judge a Rosé by its Color – The Pics!!!

It’s August, Summer is almost over, but there’s still plenty of time to down as much rosé as humanly poss!!! (responsibly, of course)

I tasted through some 40 odd pinks to come up with my top 17 (yeah it’s a weird number) for the Big Rosé Review on ZesterDaily….

for all the tasting notes and buying info, go to this Zester page below.

Zester Daily

Below are bottle shots.

Keep cool!
(unless you’re in SF, then grab a light-sweater)

2012 Lieu Dit, Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley

2012 Lieu Dit, Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley – Available at The Winehound and K& L Wines

2009 Inman Family, Endless Crush, Brut Rosé Nature, Sonoma County

2009 Inman Family, Endless Crush, Brut Rosé Nature $65 – Available at winery website

2012 Curtis Heritage Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley

2012 Curtis Heritage Rosé, $22 – Available at the winery’s site

2012 Idlewild, Grenache Gris, Gibson Ranch

2012 Idlewild, Grenache Gris, Gibson Ranch – $28- Available at the winery, also at Little Vine in San Francisco

Action Comics #1

NV Croft Pink, Porto, Douro Valley

NV Croft Pink – Porto –Widely available across the US

2012 Vallin, Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley

2012 Vallin, Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley $30 – Available at The Winehound and K& L Wines

2012 Mounts Family Winery, Grenache Rosé, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

2012 Mounts Family Winery, Grenache Rosé, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County $16 –Available at the winery

NV Blason de Bourgogne Rose, Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy

NV Blason de Bourgogne, Crémant de Bourgogne, about $8.99 Trader Joe’s

2012 Clendenen Family Vineyards, Mondeuse Rosé, Bien Nacido Estate Plantings, Santa Maria Valley

2012 Clendenen Family Vineyards, Mondeuse Rosé, Bien Nacido Estate Plantings, Santa Maria Valley
$15 – Available online and at the Au Bon Climat tasting room in Santa Barbara, 805-963-7999

2012 Broc Cellars, Santa Ynez Valley

2012 Broc Cellars, Santa Ynez Valley, $20 Available online, also at the Village Market in Oakland and many restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

2012 Cameron Hughes Lot 349, Napa Valley

2012 Cameron Hughes Lot 349, Napa Valley, $9.99 available in most SoCal CostCo

2012 Campovida – Rosé di Grenache Riserva, Russian River Valley

2012 Campovida – Rosé di Grenache Riserva , $34.00 Available at Campovida Tasting Room in Hopland (707) 744-8797, or at the Campovida Tasting Room in Oakland, 510-550-7273

2012 Gioia, Castello di Amorosa

2012 Gioia, Castello di Amorosa – $24 Available at the winery’s site

2012 Brooks, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

2012 Brooks – Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20 –Widely Available

2012 Bonny Doon, Vin Gris de Cigare, Santa Cruz

2012 Bonny Doon, Vin Gris de Cigare $16.00 – Widely available

2012 Miraval, Côtes de Provence

2012 Miraval, Côtes de Provence, around $23Widely available

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Santa Barbara’s wine future starts now.

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


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


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.


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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Curry + Wine Challenge

So we had a little tasting at Spiltwine towers recently with a Halter Ranch rosé and and skin contact white (AKA orange wine) from Piedrasassi.

The food was Indian ‘beans on toast’ – a homemade chickpea curry on a garlic flat bread with a dollop of yoghurt, few sprigs of coriander, couple mint leaves and a squirt of lime. (expertly made by the in-house chef @mariannehumble)

1978 Bollywood Poster ASSIGNMENT BOMBAY

2011 Piedrassi Central Coast White Wine ($42) is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño – the wine is very fresh and citrussy, it’s so grippy I am sure if tasted with a blindfold lots would mistake it for a Beaujolais.

While the 2012 Halter Ranch rosé ($19) is a Grenache dominated blend that also has some Syrah, Mourvedre, and the rarely seen, Picpoul Blanc. The wine is not sweet but has lots of candied fruit, almost like a watermelon Jolly Rancher.

Orange wine is a white made like a red, rosé is very much a red masquerading as a white. While the Halter Ranch was made in a traditional style, destemmed and left on the skins for 24 hours then pressed and left to ferment in a tank.

The orange wine was picked and destemmed by hand and each grape was placed (berry by berry) in a puncheon, The grapes stay one year in puncheon, before pressing. After pressing, four months in barrel and 2 months in tank. Bottled with no fining or filtration and minimal SO2.

Curry is one of the more challenging foods to match wine with, and the text-books tend to lean towards the sweet side for pairing.
This curry wasn’t vindaloo hot, but it had some kick and both Piedrassasi and the Halter Ranch added a refreshing fruit quality to the meal.
Just think about these types of wines next time you are ordering a take-away!

piedrasassi halter ranch

Halter Ranch is located in Paso Robles

8910 Adelaida Rd Paso Robles, CA 93446
(888) 367-9977

Piedrasassi is located at the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc

1501 E. Chestnut Ave.
Lompoc, CA

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The garage is open for pouring

From the Santa Barbara News-Press – January 26th

The popular wine show from Paso Robles, The Garagiste Festival is rolling its way down south to Solvang, in what will hopefully be an annual event, Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure.

Garagiste is all about celebrating the little guy and will feature 30 of Santa Ynez Valley’s high-quality, small-production winemakers, on February 16th. The new non-profit festival follows on the heels of 2012’s sold out Paso Robles Garagiste Festival, which hosted over 40 wineries and 1,000 attendees, and will incorporate the festival’s signature high quality wines, personal winemaker interaction and renegade spirit.

Larry Schaffer from Tercero Wines will be pouring from his conical flasks at the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

Larry Schaffer from Tercero Wines will be pouring from his conical flasks at the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure

The Garagiste Festivals, are dedicated to discovering and promoting artisan garagiste winemakers and showcase high-quality, cutting-edge, small production, commercial wineries that produce fewer than 1,200 cases a year.

The term garagiste derives from a movement in Bordeaux from the mid 1990’s. It is the nick-name given to those who made “vin de garage” or garage wine and is in reference to a group of rebellious Bordeaux winemakers who were tired of the strict oenology and viticulture laws that govern the region. As they never had their own estate vineyard, the garagistes would have to buy their grapes, in some cases very sought after expensive grapes, they made wine of a modern style, unlike anything at the time.  The term which at one point was a back handed compliment, has evolved to define wine that is made in a small quantities or micro-cuvée.

“In response to overwhelming demand, we have expanded the festival a hundred miles south to Santa Ynez Valley, one of the most exciting garagiste regions in the country,” said Garagiste Festival co-founder Doug Minnick. “The Santa Ynez Valley is the perfect next location as we continue to expand the Garagiste Festival to expose more garagistes to even more wine consumers.”

South African winemaker Ernst Storm, South Africa, makes wine under his own label Storm and is also head winemaker at Curtis Winery in Los Olivos, is looking forward to the event, “I think it is a great way for consumers to taste and also talk to smaller producers that they would not have gotten in touch with otherwise. It gives us winemakers the chance to showcase personality driven wines from small batches made with a lot of care and attention to detail in an intimate environment.”  Storm will be pouring his 2011 Sauvignon Blanc-Santa Ynez Valley, 2009 Pinot Noir-Santa Maria Valley and the 2010 Pinot Noir-John Sebastiano Vineyard.

Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines, who is known for decanting his wine in to laboratory beakers, has a different take.  “When you only make 4-500 case you don’t have much to get out there and shows like this are the perfect opportunity to showcase your wine to wine savvy consumers who don’t necessarily know about our names.”  Schaffer is planning to pour a variety of his wines which will include will be his 2011 Viognier and Grenache Blanc, as well as his Mourvedre.

Melissa Sorongon, co-owner of Piedrasassi, is looking forward to taste some of her compatriot’s wines, “Because a lot of these winemakers don’t have their own vineyards, it would be interesting to try wines made from the same vineyards but by different winemakers.”  Piedrasassi will have their 2010 Central Coast White, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Roussane as well as their 2009 Central Coast Syrah.

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure - February 16th 2013

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure – February 16th 2013 in Solvang

The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure takes place at the Mission-style Veterans Memorial Hall in  Solvang.  The one-day festival begins at 11:00 AM with the seminar “The Ultimate Barrel Tasting – Oak Flavors Tasted and Explained”. Winemaker and vineyard owner Michael Larner, of Larner Vineyard, and winemaker Ryan Render, of Rendarrio Vineyards and cooperage Tonnellerie Saint Martin, bring their knowledge of viticulture, winemaking, and barrels to the table in this special comparison barrel tasting of wines made by McPrice Myers from the Larner Vineyard. Attendees will learn and taste through a selection of wines made from the same vineyards but put through different oak treatments.  Basically, showing how oak can affect the finished product and change the profile of a wine.

Current wineries in attendance are: Altman Winery, Autonom, Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Blair Fox Cellars, Casa Dumetz, Center of Effort, Deovlet Wines, El Rey Wines, Frequency Wines, Ground Effect Wines, J. Wilkes Wines, Kaena Wine Co., Kessler-Haak Wines, La Fenetre Wines, Larner Winery, Luminesce, Nagy Wines, Native9 Wine, Pench Rance, Piedrasassi, Refugio Ranch, Roark Wine Co., Ryan Cochrane Wines, Shai Cellars, Storm Wines, Tercero Wines and Transcendence Wines., with more to come.

For tickets and more information on The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, go to http://garagistefestival.com, or follow on Twitter (@GaragisteFest) or Facebook.

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Garagiste Festival, Parking Up In Santa Barbara

Really happy to hear that the Garagiste Festival will be making its way down south! The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure will be taking place in Solvang next month, February 16th.

I have a belief that a lot of innovation and trends come from smaller projects and it’s great to know there is a dedicated wine show with the same thoughts.

I’ve attend the first two Garagiste Festivals in Paso, most recently last November, and each time came away with about 6 new producers who I thought were breaking trends with potentially future star wines…Ambyth Estate will always be a stand-out in this regard.

There are about 30 producers pouring wine with some of my personal favorites in attendance: Piedrasassi, Ground Effect, Storm Wines and Tercero Wines

If you have Presidents day weekend free, support the little guy, and definitely mark this event on your calendar.

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure - February 16th 2013

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure – February 16th 2013 in Solvang



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Some wines of late

Here’s a few wines that have stood out recently.


Villemade, Hervé – 2010 Cheverney, La Bodice. A natural Chardonnay we brought back with us from Paris. Crisp, ripe and fresh. Was in the 12 euro range, acquired at Le Verre Volé


Pierre Péters, NV (i think) Grand Cru, Blanc de Blanc. A wedding gift from some friends and a lovely Chardonnay at that! Champers how I like it…fresh green apple flavor with a hint of creaminess, some stone fruit as well, long lasting finish. Not sure on the price


Piedrasassi, PS Syrah 2010 (I think) – I always seem to be talking about this place. Didn’t write a tasting note for this but remember I really enjoyed it…think it was in the $18 area (but was given as a sample) seriously worth a plunge….Winehound in SB carries it or drop by their place in the Ghetto.


Alain Graillot, 2009 Crozes Hermitage
Had this wine at the end of a large meal. Was absolutely perfect in every way…again no tasting note. But I really remember the ripeness of the berry fruit mixed with that great Syrah spiciness. Think strawberries with a dusting of cracked black pepper. If any fault at all it was our own for trying the stuff in its adolescence, the wine has a good 10-15 years in it. Had this at Bacchus a tiny wine bar on Hyde, in Russian Hill – $75 (ouch, but damn good)

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Crisp white is the only way.

In regards to white wine, I like them cold, I like them to be white, but most importantly I like my whites to be CRISP!

There was a time that I could enjoy a non-acid-searing white wine, but those days have long gone…

This disdain, avoidance, dislike, of whites, mostly of the Southern French variety, didn’t come to me in the middle of the night as a message from God but rather was a sort of pebble in the shoe for a while.  What I blame most is my lengthy time spent in the Languedoc, surrounded by fat whites, no acidity and an overall blah taste in my mouth.

searing acidity

This is why I stir clear of most Rhone white varieties, why I will always drink dry Riesling, certain Grüners, some Chardonnays, and most if not all Colombards from SW France.

I like crisp!

Recently, when I was generously handed a bottle of Vionier from Sashi Moorman, I was of course skeptical, would this bottle from Lompoc be the saving grace?

I first met Sashi about eight years ago. I was a pretentious, know-it-all, sommelier, visiting from the UK;  Sashi was a young ambitious winemaker, gaining respect in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Much has changed since then…now, Sashi’s main job (he’s got like twelve) is head guy at Evening Land Vineyards.  He also owns his own label Piedrasassi and the second label from that New Vineland.
Myself, I am no longer a sommelier.

2008 New Vineland Viognier matched great with Trader Joe's goodies.

2008 New Vineland Viognier matched great with Trader Joe's goodies.

I mentally committed to try the wine, so I thought why not put it through a small test of matching to culinary delights! I went to the local Commerçant Joe and purchased a variety of cheeses and cured things.  I only mention this because there is  a cheese there that you must try…it’s called Delice de Bourgogne Double Cream (I think it was $6-8)…well I could have had that cheese and this wine all night long!! Suffice to say the wine was very impressive and stood up to the pairings.  The cheese has been locked away to save my waist line.

Don’t forget white and cheese is sometimes better than red.

As for the wine, here’s the note:

2008 New Vineland Viognier, Santa Barbara County, $22.00

On the nose was lots of citrus, especially tangerine and peach.
The palate I particularly enjoyed, there was quite a lot of quenching fruit, but also fresh almonds and best of all distinct minerality –  like a freshly cut slab of wet granite…loved it!

As Viogniers go, I actually did enjoy this guy.

Piedrasassi’s tasting room is located within the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc. Sashi’s wife Melissa can usually be found there.

They are open from Noon-5pm Friday to Sunday
And you can call them for an appointment on other days

1501 E. Chestnut Ave.
Lompoc, CA



Oh and a little tidbit for you… New Vineland was going to be the name of Lompoc but for some reason Lompoc (which is Chumash for stagnant waters or lagoon) was already chosen.

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