Monday, June 29, 2009

Focus on Santa Barbara Wine Country: Lincourt Cabernet

Santa Barbara wine country, which sits on the southern part of the Central Coast, is mostly known for its Pinots and Chardonnays, and sometimes known for the raucous throngs of mid-twenties limo riding bachelorette party going sorority chick types looking for a thrilling weekend too far from Vegas. There really should be a name for the whipper snappers that come to wine country to party, during the day mind you, by traveling from tasting room to tasting room, annoying both proprietors and the serious wine patrons. There's no need for anybody to collect signatures with a sharpie on your tutu'd ass. I don't care how much free wine you've sipped!

But back to my point...

Santa Barbara's neighboring Santa Ynez mountains are unusual because they run east-west, and funnel the flow of ocean breezes inland so the fog hugs the hillsides, creating a cooler Burgundian climate in which pinots thrive. The better wines will come from one of three AVAs (American Viticulture Area): Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Maria Valley. Some of my favorite producers are Babcock, Melville, Dierburg, Starlane, Foxen, Black Jack, and Consilience. Consilience is one of the many producers enjoying success with the Rhone varietals, such as Syrah, Viognier, and Roussanne.

This region is still gaining in popularity since the 2004 sleeper hit "Sideways," (mostly likely the culprit for bringing the aforementioned undesirables), but wines here have been steadily gaining respectability all on their own, thanks to the amazing and dedicated producers and a thriving wine community.

Lesser known among Santa Barbara gems is the mighty Cabernet Sauvignon. Big N and I recently enjoyed a fine specimen from Lincourt: the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from La Cuesta Vineyard.

Lincourt is a sister winery to one of Santa Barbara's most acclaimed producers, Bill Foley of Foley Estates. Named after his daughters, Lindsey and Courtney, Lincourt Estate contains just 30 acres and makes smaller production wines. The La Cuesta vineyard sits on an elevated hillside facing the southeast. With just 8 acres of cabernet grapes, each vintage is carefully nurtured and aged in french oak for over two years.

This bottle was one of the easiest drinking Cabs I've ever tried, completely approachable for the Cab-intimidated. Bursting with violets, sweet tobacco, cedar, and rose petals on the nose and dark fruits like plum and blackberry, tobacco, espresso, and canela on the palate. It's a younger drinking wine, enjoy now, and pair with anything off the grill, from hamburgers to lamb rib chops. You'll find this one for about $30, and it's a bargain at that.