Monday, July 6, 2015

Best Santa Cruz Mountains Value Pinots (Under $30) - Planning Part 2

Sue and I spent the last couple of months scouring the Santa Cruz Mountains for the Pinots, often joined by the Fosters. We had a great time visiting so many different places, some for the first time! We spent $830 gathering a single bottle of each of the wines. When visiting wineries, we left with at least 3 bottles and sometimes as much as a case. Our wine budget is depleted, our cellars are overflowing, and we're ready for a break. Is it time to taste yet?

Preparing for the Tasting

I put them all together for this money shot.

Under $30 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinots

I removed all the foil, wrapped them in K&L bags, and stored them.

All Wrapped and Ready to Taste

The Final List (28)

WineryWineRetailBest Price
Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery2013 Alfaro "A" Estate$25.00$25.00
Bargetto Winery2013 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir, Regan Estate Vineyards$35.00$28.00
2013 Pinot Noir, Regan Estate Vineyards$28.00$22.40
Burrell School Vineyards & Winery2010 Estate Pinot Noir$39.00$29.00
Byington Vineyard & Winery2012 Pinot Noir, Estate$39.00$29.25
Dancing Creek Winery2010 Santa Cruz Mountains Legato, Pinot Noir$28.00$28.00
MJA Vineyards2011 Davine Cellars Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$38.00$26.60
2012 Reagen$38.00$26.60
Domenico Winery2009 Santa Cruz Pinot Noir$35.00$28.00
La Honda Winery2013 SEQUENCE, Pinot Noir$28.00$28.00
McHenry Vineyard2012 "Swan Clone - Estate" Pinot Noir$38.00$28.99
2012 Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$34.00$25.99
Muns Vineyard2010 Estate Pinot Noir$40.00$28.00
Nicholson Vineyards2012 Pinot Noir, Cuvee$30.00$25.50
Pelican Ranch Winery2011 Santa Cruz Mts., Meadowridge Vineyard$35.00$29.75
2010 Santa Cruz Mts., Amaya Ridge Vineyard$35.00$29.75
Perrucci Family Vineyard2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$34.00$23.80
Radonich Brothers Vineyards2012 Estate$27.99$27.99
Rexford Winery2011 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains$25.00$20.00
Roudon-Smith Winery2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Private Reserve Pinot Noir$30.00$26.40
Russian Ridge Winery2012 Russian Ridge Pinot Noir$30.00$25.50
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard2010 Pinot Noir Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard$32.00$29.00
Sante Arcangeli Family Wines2013 Pinot Noir, Split Rail Vineyard, Corralitos$36.00$28.80
Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$36.00$28.80
Ser Winery2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$33.00$28.00
Silvertip Vineyards2012 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, Estate$32.00$24.00
Soquel Vineyards2013 Estate Pinot Noir$33.00$29.70
Storrs Winery2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$36.00$28.80
Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$35.00$29.75
Trout Gulch Vineyards2012 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir$28.00$28.00
Villa del Monte Winery2013 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains$34.00$28.90
2013 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Regan Vineyards Martini Clone$32.00$27.20
2013 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Regan Pommard Clone$32.00$27.20
2012 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Regan Vineyard$32.00$27.20
Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards & Winery2013 Terra Narro Estate Pinot Noir$29.00$23.00

Things I've Learned

There are a lot of Great People Out There

Those that responded were very helpful. They shared information, helped pick wines and vintages, and went out of there way to deliver or make it easy for me to pick up the wine. Thank you all.

Always Check the Bottles Before you Leave

If you don't, you might find that sometimes you won't have what you came for when you get home. Thankfully wineries are usually super flexible about making exchanges, even on days they aren't normally open.

Be Specific with the Rules

The purpose of this was to find the best readily available, under $30 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot. In some cases enthusiasts would have to go to extremes to get the price. In other cases the wine was no longer even made. If I ever do something like this again, I'll make the rules more restrictive.

Never do Something Like this Again

This was a little too aggressive. 28 wines is a lot. They were costly and time consuming to gather. They are going to take months to taste 6 or 7 at a time.

Good Luck!

I've met and interacted with so many great wine producers.  I'm rooting for all of them. If I wasn't confident we use an objective process I would be worried these interactions could sway the results.

The first tasting will hopefully be in August. I'll post results as I get them.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

2015 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Santa Cruz Mountains Gold+ Pinot Winners

When the results of the San Francisco Wine Competition come out, my mind races with ideas to try them - yes I'm that kind of wine enthusiast. Not surprising to anyone that knows me, I decided to blind taste all the Gold and up Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot winners. I tend towards Pinots and while we enjoy wine from different regions, I favor the Santa Cruz Mountains given its local and has an endless supply of great wine.

We managed to get all but one of the winners:
  • 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Estate - Gold 
  • 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Lester Family Vineyards - Double Gold 
  • 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Partner's Reserve - Double Gold 
  • 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Library Selection - Gold 
  • 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Coast Grade Vineyard - Gold 
  • 2012 Villa del Monte Winery, William Vincent - Gold 
  • 2011 Storrs Winery and Vineyards, Christie Vineyard - Best of Class 
  • 2012 Woodenhead, Lester Family - Gold 

Unfortunately I was unable to find a bottle of the 2012 Savannah Chanelle Vineyards, Muns Vineyard - Gold. Next year I promise to react more quickly to the results. Medal winning helps wines sell out.

The Tasting

The wines were opened an hour before the tasting began, which hopefully helped them open up a little; they were a little young to drink.

Sue took the opportunity to change the look of the backyard. My initial thoughts are typically resistive, as Sue has learned to expect and justifiably ignore, but in the end I usually come around. The updated look was pretty impressive, complete with firefly lights.

The usuals all showed up. We tasted, discussed, rated, and loudly discussed politics some.


Top to Bottom from Left to Right

A - 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Lester Family Vineyards came in first place with an average of 3.60. It cost $39. We picked up all of the Soquel on a trip to the winery with Bob and Carolyn. The Soquel winery is a lovely place, a seeming oasis given the surroundings. They were serving pizza fresh out of their pizza oven, which was a nice treat. I always wonder why we don't belong when we leave.

E - 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Partner's Reserve came in second place with an average of 3.14. It cost $39.

H - 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Estate came in third place with an average of 3.11. It cost $33. We'll be trying this again in the < $30 tasting.

F - 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Coast Grade Vineyard came in fourth place with an average of 3.06. It cost $39.

G - 2011 Storrs Winery and Vineyards, Christie Vineyard came in fifth place with an average of 2.96. We thought we had picked this up on a trip to the winery, but when I checked the year I realized we had picked up 2009. Thankfully, I was able to order the correct vintage from the web site and it arrived in time.

D - 2012 Woodenhead, Lester Family came in sixth place with an average of 2.82. It cost $42. The winery was sold out of this; they tried to find me a bottle when they heard what we were doing, but they could not. Luckily, I found this at The Wine House via wine-searcher.

C - 2013 Soquel Vineyards, Partner's Reserve, Library Selection came in seventh place with an average of 2.75. It cost $56.

B - 2012 Villa del Monte Winery, William Vincent came in last place with an average of 2.60. It cost $37. The winery was sold out of this wine, but after looking around they found me a double magnum.

3L of William Vincent

They even graciously signed it for me when I picked it up. Thank you Neil and John.

I wasn't about to use this bottle for a tasting. I was prepared to apologize about not putting it in the tasting, or possibly using a different vintage, but I luckily found a bottle down the street from the winery at Summit Store.