Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Saints Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, California

I'm at that point in my life where hard-work and dedication are goals everyday: every time I read about someone who dared to break off on their own and build something that was theirs I am reminded that the only thing standing between myself and my success is me.

   I'm in awe of people who seem to instinctually know this and live their lives accordingly; they dream of something and they make it happen. Kudos to people like you. You are inspirational.
Three Saints, Santa Ynez

   Jim Dierberg is one of those inspirational people. Jim was born in a small town in Missouri and after college went to work at the local bank. The local bank went out of control and turned into a chain of 150 units across several states and Jim's salary increased accordingly, and so Jim did what every kid in Missouri dreams of (joking); he opened a winery.

   Not content with just the Hermannhof winery, which became one of the best known wineries in the state... Jim and his wife Mary began scouring California for their new home and adventure. They ended up in the Santa Barbara AVA and why they chose to settle there I can well understand. Santa Barbara is comfortable; rolling hills meet the ocean and un-ending beaches... there's great farmland, cattle raising (*especially lamb), fishing. In fact, one of the only things I don't like about Santa Barbara is that there is a county-wide $2000 fine for smoking on the beach. Fairly draconian measures in my mind - but then again - I smoke cigars, don't I?

   So Jim and Mary found Santa Barbara County appellation in the inland corner known as Santa Ynez Valley and there they started the Three Saints Vineyard ( ). Many winemakers will argue that the area along the coastline is more prestigious,  as it gets a heavy amount of fog and is eminently suitable to the growing of Pinot Noir. Santa Ynez however retains it's heat, and when Jim and Mary wanted to work with Southern Rhone varietals - they know they had the right spot.

   The wineries' website gives the fullest explanation of their individual terroirs and I fear I wouldn't do them justice by plagiarizing and so I'll say: visit the website. It's a brief read full of useful information. One thing I don't think they give enough attention to is the vast amount of work that is done by hand in the vineyards. There are a staggering number of wineries in California who automate their viticulture work in order to reduce costs and (theoretically) increase quality... in some instances I've seen quality increase. Some.

2007 Three Saints Syrah
$20    **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****

time on skins:   20 days
aging:      15 months in neutral oak; 2 months on-the-lees
fining/filtration:   light fining/ light filtration
production:   650 cases
  • visual:   clear; dark inky-purple core with slight cherry rim (light bricking)
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing aromas of bright red cherry, red raspberry, light cassis, blackberry and huge blueberry notes, savory baked earth
  • palate:   clean; moderate (red currant) acids, moderate+ (chalky, silty) tannins, moderate+ body, moderate+ alcohol (14.2% ABV), moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with nuances of leather, red meat, hints of dark coffee. Very good balance and structure, long length
  • conclusion:   drink now to 2014, will not develop further in bottle
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:   all of the berry notes and the bright, vibrant acidity make me want to pair this with duck~! Consider a Chinese 5-spice crispy skin duck breast on wild rice latkes with steamed Swiss chard...

 2007 Three Saints "Steakhouse Red"
 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Malbec, 18% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc
$23     **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****
  • visual:   clear; moderate+ to fully intense garnet core with substantial cherry/brick rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate intense and developing aromas of baked earth, casis, red and black raspberry, worn leather, light savory herbs, a little spice on the finish (a good Bordeaux blend)
  • palate:   clean; moderately intense red currant/cassis acids, moderate+ (chalky/silty) tannins, moderate body, moderate+ alcohol (14.7% ABV), moderately intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with the richness of the berries and the earth showcasing. Very good to excellent balance, excellent structure and long length.
  • conclusion:   drinking very well now and until 2014/15. Will not improve with further aging.
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:  I wouldn't expect this with a $23 Bordeaux blend, but this has the balanced acids and finesse in it's structure to pair with beef tenderloin. Consider  butter poached venison tenderloin "al rossini" with shaved black truffle on foie gras, potato rosti and apple puree
the view at Santa Ynez

   A great showing of reasonably priced wines. I look forward to sampling more of their products in the near future~!

As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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