Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Santa Ynez Valley Day 1

Tensley tasting corner
Carina Cellars and Tensley Wines

This past weekend, we went to Lake Cachuma for one night camping, hiking and inevitably wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley. We arrived at the campsite, had lunch and headed straight to Grand Ave of Los Olivos. Cute little town with the main street filled with tourists for wine tasting and art gallery.

Lea Chardonnay
We started off at Tensley Wines where we had to pick up our trio of Syrahs and meanwhile have some free tastings of their current release. The tasting room was in the same place as Carina Cellars (of which the head winemaker is none other than Joey Tensley), which took up most of the space while Tensley was in a corner. While the Carina Cellars bar was empty, the Tensley bar was lightly packed. We received our trio and began tastings.

Lea Chardonnay 2011
The second vintage of Chardonnay Jennifer has made. Her goal was to have "somewhere between a lush, buttery Chardonnay aged in new oak and a lean, crisp Chardonnay done in stainless steel." Indeed, this Chardonnay was definitely somewhere in the middle! This fresh, crisp wine had the creamy mouth feel without being overly oaky (which is what I do not enjoy). Notes of peaches. OOOO

Tensley 2010 Colson Canyon Syrah

Has smell of minerality. Big bold spice with notes of blackberry. OOOo

Tensley Tasting list


Lea Turner Vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir

This was opened after some ladies convinced the nice guy behind the counter. We were lucky to be right there (both to witness the coercion and taste the wine). Juicy and acidic with a drying end, this wine is jammy and plummy with notes of watermelon which I found interesting but that is what I wrote as I tasted. Pinot Noir confuses me. OOO 

Tensley 2010 Tierra Alta Syrah

Juicy with raspberry notes. Sweeter and less spicier than other Syrahs of the same vintage from Colson or Santa Barbara. Has a savory note that is very enjoyable. OOO

Chicken and Egg

Overall great experience with great genuine service. It was fun to listen in on what two ladies had to say about the tastings. "Oh this is very subtle." "Oh what bouquet!" nodding their heads in agreement or shaking in unison. Ah. Wine tasting is such a wonderful social event.

What is a wine tasting experience without a visit to the art galleries. We visited one that had the interesting sculptures like a fat male mermaid laying on his side (boobies showing) and chicken and egg (shown here PG-rated). 

Gallery Los Olivos

We felt inspired and went on to next door Gallery Los Olivos where we found Peggy Fletcher at the reception.We all loved her watercolor and I secretly wanted to steal the Sunflowers in Italy (and the cat!). There were plenty other works that were fun and prices were not entirely out of our budgets. Peggy was friendly, telling us personal stories of artists while we browsed their work. I ended up buying Mr Longhorn for my sister by Linda Mutti.

Los Olivos Tasting room

All artsy fartsy, we proceeded to Los Olivos Wine Tasting Room, where we have had an interesting encounter with the man who pours there. It was not a good experience but somehow we felt attracted to the place again. We were about to change our minds.


The same bitter "I was the first one here" man was pouring. This time the room was packed unlike the last time. It did not change his attitude. A couple asked for more pour after the last raspberry regale, he blatantly refused them saying they cannot taste after the sweet explosion. I laughed inside.

Here are the not so generous pours.

Au Bon Climat
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2010
I have heard and seen plenty from Au Bon Climat but never had any of their wines. Unlike the usually oaky Californian Chardonnay, this had more of the minerality and crisp of a white Burgundy. OOOo

Kenneth Crawford
Kenneth Crawford Babcock Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
We have had Babcock wines and they have been decent. This was well balanced, acidic and juicy. It got little difficult to keep track with much going on in the little room. I can only say I enjoyed it. OOO

Ken Brown Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2009
We have had Ken Brown Pinot Noir Clos Pepe 2007 and it was so wonderful that I went over budget on two bottles of it. This one though was not as juicy as the Kenneth Crawford and has faint notes of spice. Here is an example of all about terroir. OOo

Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel 2009
This reminded me of marshmallows! Taste like sundried raisins. Dry end. OOo

Red Flight
Wrath 2009 115/667 Monterey Pinot Noir 
This would be my first Monterey although it left no impression for me that I cannot even give it any Os. Sad Day. 

Margerum Cent'Anni Buoni Anni Sangiovese 2008
I thought of a nouveau Beaujolais when I tasted this. It had the cake batter quality to it along with blueberries lingering in your mouth. OOo

Saint James Raspberry Regale
Not for the faint hearted and a crowd pleaser for anyone who enjoys their sweets. A little too sweet for me but the raspberry jammy taste is just a wonderful flavor. OOO

Although busy, he chatted with us about Ken Brown and what nots as I took pictures. We asked about the Seasmoke Southing he was pouring, he looked around, said " These two are better", pointing to the Kenneth Crawford and the Ken Brown he had poured, and told us not to pay for the $10 pour. Wow. I like this guy more and more.

Big butt duck
We left for our scheduled Nature Cruise at Lake Cachuma (Art, Wine and Nature!) and got chased by a storm. Wet, we had some delicious Korean Kalbi marinated chicken breast, barbequed to perfection with roasted vegetables. Of course, we had our Two-Buck-Chuck (worth an post on its own) although we started off with the classic Menage a Trois 2008. We ended the night with roasted marshmallows between perfectly toasted graham crackers with melted chocolate. Yum.

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