Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wine Trip to Santa Barbara Jaffurs Winery (PB)

After a seminar in L.A. I took a little jaunt out to Santa Barbara with my beautiful and very pregnant daughter and dashing son-in-law. First stop on my itinerary was Jaffurs Winery. My wine guy in Freeport, Maine said I definitely had to check them out when I was out there. Since he hasn’t steered me wrong yet, how could I refuse.

I contacted Dave Yates who welcomed me out. I was surprised when I pulled in front of the building that looked more like a warehouse for sheet-metal work than a winery.

“Matt” greeted us and asked if we wanted to taste some wines. Sitting on a small table were five bottles. (*Note—for me tasting/reviewing wine is difficult for me when I am not sitting with it in my home with time to ponder it/study it/smell it (many times) and finally taste it. Without exception, wines I review in these environments are even better when I get them home.)

Matt proceeded to explain that they are a small operation and don’t even own their own vines, but lease them from various owners. He assured me that only premium grape vines are leased.

My first glass was a Roussanne 2004—It was pale straw with a somewhat *thin bouquet of fresh citrus, nice mouth feel, creamy notes and solid structure. All in all quite nice.
(*Remember this was not the ideal tasting arena being open to the outside air which tends
to dilute the collection of volatile esters which gives wine its bouquet.)

My second glass was a Grenache 2004 from the Stolpman and Thompson Vineyards. I was thoroughly taken with this wine. It had a wonderful bouquet of raspberries with strawberry hints. In the mouth this wine is really distinctive, having truly unique floral flavors of rose petals(?) and a wonderful mouth feel. It was just bottled in August. I loved this wine.

Next was a Sangiovese 2004 named Cane Felice, named for the winery dog, Kava.—This is the classic wine grape of Tuscany; I was skeptical when Matt told me what it was. Made from Paso Robles grapes it was a light ruby with a light, yet sensuous bouquet; really nice. Its flavor was unlike Tuscan Sangiovese lacking the steeliness I often associate with the Italian creations. This wine is fresher and more pleasant than the wines of Tuscany. It finishes of light apples. Again—Nice!

Wine # 4 was a Syrah 2003 Santa Barbara; This wine is deep red and inky looking with young strawberry and cranberry notes in the nose. In the mouth it is peppery and chewy, youthful, tannins yet with a very finessed finish. Really nice.

The last wine was a bold Syrah 2003 from the Thompson Vineyards (if I didn’t get my notes confused) and was much deeper in rich color than the previous pour. There is white pepper and deep berry notes. Hints of chocolate, strawberries and cranberry highlight this nicely balanced creation. Finishes well.

Now here is the real scoop on Jaffurs; there are only a relative handful of wineries which, in my opinion, just turn out really good wines no matter what grape(s) they are working with. I was impressed with Jaffurs as being one of these wineries. Each wine I tasted was distinctive and really artistically crafted. I was impressed and I believe you will be as well.

But here’s the problem—Production is small which means scarce and yet way out here in the middle of “Snake Navel,” Maine, my wine guy in Freeport stocks the Roussanne. So if we can get it out here, anyone ought to be able to get it and if you’re in a state where it is legal to bring wine in from out of state, visit Jaffurs website. And Raise a glass!

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