Thursday, April 5, 2012

Santa Ynez Valley Day 2

Channel Islands, Ocean and Santa Barbara to the South

Lake Cachuma to the North

We woke up relatively early, had breakfast and set off for Tequepis trail. It was long and uphill all the way but nice and shady as said. We encountered strong winds near the summit.
Banana Slug!
The view was well worth the hike up at the summit. Highly recommended hike.

We descended pretty fast and headed straight to Santa Barbara less than 45 minutes away. Begging for a change of scenery, we went to Union Ale first where Sambo did his beer tastings. All I could say was that I enjoyed the pale ale. The rest were hmm interesting.

Union Ale flight
Next we went to Kalyra Winery just next door. Giessinger Winery was in the same building but we heed the bartender's advice and went to Kalyra. Bad news the moment we walked in.

The tasting room had a Tiki theme going on with radio rock music in the background. We looked at each other and knew we were in for something. The patrons were something else. A little tipsy touristy crowd who are not even really there for the wine and looked like they needed rooms for some private time. Oh no.

On to the tastings! Here is a list of what we tasted.

Pinot Blanco 2009 o
Grenache Blanc 2010 o
Gerw├╝rztraminer 2009 Oo
Sangiovese 2009 Oo
MC2 Blend 2009 O
NV Cashmere Blend 62 o
NV Kalyra Black Muscat OO
10 yr NV Rare Tawny Port O

Honestly, they are not all worth mentioning. The first two tasted like water with a little carbonation and had a bad metallic taste to them. The Gerw├╝rztraminer was not too bad but I have had better. The reds were blah.
Reds with interesting labels

Sambo tried the Black Muscat first and there was a twinkle in his eye as if he discovered something. He gestured for me to taste it (we usually compare after both of us tasted). I smelled it and realised why. It was a burst of lychee in your face! None of the other berries they mentioned because the lychee smell was so strong! Fun wine although the taste was not as good as it smells.

Overall, the wines were cheaper than at other wineries as promised although we did not think they were worth the price. Some of the bottle labels were galaxy like and it makes me wonder how that all fit into the Tiki surfing theme. They are some confused folks. I doubt I will be back for more (especially with the tasteful deco). Maybe just to smell some lychee.

Follow the trail!

We continued on the Urban Wine trail onward to Santa Barbara Winery, which we knew were related to LaFond which we enjoyed further North awhile back. The place was packed. This time with some serious wine drinkers swirling their glasses. The place was well decorated with sights of their barrels as background and their display of their wines and LaFond's all around. There was also a free Olive oil tasting in a corner.

We barged our way to the counter, pushing another Asian out of the way and asked for taster flight.

SB Winery
2009 Riesling
Not the sweet kind but rather the dry ones which I enjoy. This was crisp and had enjoyable minerality. It is supposed to pair well with Malaysian food! OOOO

2010 Sauvignon Blanc
A standard Sauvignon Blanc with the grassy citrus taste. Light and crisp, well made. OOOo

2010 Chardonnay (Not actually on the list but was given upon request!)
Good crispness and freshness balanced by the creaminess from the oak. Well balanced and not too oaky. Very enjoyable with smooth finish. A good mix of Californian style and Burgundian whites. OOOO

2006 Nebbiolo
This is very different from the Nebbiolos I have had before. This was more full bodied and more intense and complex than I remember the lighter and simple straightforward Nebbiolo I had. It is a tough one to write about since I do not know much about Nebbiolos. Time for more tasting. Overall though, it was an enjoyable wine. OOO

2009 Primitivo
Also known as Zinfandel. This did not make much of an impression on me. Maybe I am just not a fan of Zinfandels. Or perhaps I have had a little too much tastings for the day. OOo

2009 Grenache 
A decent Grenache. Not that I remember much. OOo

2008 Petite Sirah
I usually swerve away from Petite Sirahs since they are different from their name cousin, the Syrahs. They are fuller and are generally more tannic than Syrahs. I just found out that 90% of the so called Petite Syrah planted in the US are actually Durif. This wine in particular though had a good balance of acid and tannins that I enjoyed. Other than that I am still a little cautious. Maybe I just need to drink more Durifs to understand it better. OOO

This was a wonderful experience. I ended up with a bottle of their Chardonnay ($15!) and a Riesling ($10!). It is time for some Malaysian food Galore to go with the Riesling!

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