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Dec 2019

Satellite Wine Club, December 2019

Lo-Fi - Chardonnay - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2018

Leitmotif - Pinot Noir - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2017


I’m in love I’m in love I’M IN LOVE & I DON’T CARE WHO KNOW’S IT!!

That's how my heart felt picking up these two wines today. You’ve got to know something here… I don’t generally drive to wineries to pick up wine directly, but on this day, friends, I felt compelled. 

New vintages are always risky. You can barrel taste all day, be certain, but never you never know until the bottles have rested, recovered from the numbness of bottle shock. Wines really do shut down after bottling; very alive, natural wines especially… they’re emotional and sometimes need to adjust to their new living arrangements. In the case of those who sit before you, fear not winestronaut, these fresh vintages are not numb, no,  simply num-num.

So what do we have here? An uncommon set for our dear little wine club! Two different grapes??!! A Red AND a White!??! Both from Santy Barby?!!? “Drew, what is happening” Let me explain my reasoning, my love. 

You’ve been the best this year, wine club winestronauts. Our numbers continue to grow, our community of enthusiastics continues to swell, each Monday… and many other nights I see you inter-mingling, sharing bottles with other club members and newbies a-like. I a-like it a lot. The team here likes it a lot. We like you a lot. I think, I believe, I feel this in my bones - you get it. This thematic, new vintage, simply delicious, Burgundian-grape-varietals-made-local-by-my-favorite-small-natural-wine-makers, SANTA BARGUNDIAN HOLIDAY BONANZA is special. It’s an expression of what I believe in here in this region. Burgundy we are not, but amazing we are. 

Lo-Fi - Chardonnay - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2018

Lower the lights, slip on something sexy, queue up some funk on your record player, let your inhibitions dissolve into the blissful, and enjoy this unavoidably sensual, nerve tingling chardonnay. 

Lo-fi is for me the most important natural winery in Santa Barbara. Perhaps others had experimented, but they committed, and leaned in.  Consistently their uninhibited wines explore deeper into the margins of possibility here in Santa Barbara. They touch the void and continue deeper. Mike Roth and Craig Winchester, the funk maestro’s of Lo-Fi fear nothing and know too much. They are truly to progenitors of a local movement and I love them for it. In fact, theirs were the first wines that really opened my mind to Santa Barbara as a natural wine producing region. 

The rules of Lo-Fi are these: Organic Farming, Natural Yeast, No SO2 until bottling (where the minimal effective amount is used, if at all), and no other additions whatsoever. Sometimes, in an odd case they will use a light filter, but not here brothers and sisters. What sits before you is pure Lo-Fi, distilled into a delicious, bouyant, typically tickled and, yet, entirely unique chardonnay. 

The wine in your cup, or your mouth (I hope), is from two excellent local vineyards. The first and 75% of the blend, is from Oak Savannah Vineyard. The vineyard was planted in 1970ish and has been farmed organically ever since. It’s in Foxen Canyon north of Los Olivos and backs onto the Demetria Vineyard which is Biodynamically farmed, thus avoiding most harsh contaminants on its margins. The other vineyard is Spear Vineyard… one of my new faves. It’s an organic certified vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills (just on the left side of the 246 a mile past Pence Ranch). I’m so excited about it because A. they ah a huge variety of excellently farmed varietals we don’t see everywhere in the region, B. they have lots of fruit, and C. It’s owned by the guy who started LifeAlert® … “Help Grandma’s Fallen and she needs a glass of Chardonnay!”.

The wine is naturally fermented using only the ambient yeast in a mix of neutral french oak and concrete tanks, aged there too! The wine undergoes partial malolactic fermentation leading to a minutely creamy, almost yogurty quality which just tastes real, real good. Unfiltered this was hand-bottled by the guys with only a dusting of less than 25ppm of SO2 to keep it clean for your holiday enjoyment. 

Let’s give it the olde full-face inspection! On the nose it’s fresh apple pie … fresh like it hasn’t gone in the oven yet… with lots of fresh cut yellow apple, cinnamon and holiday spices, a touch of vanilla bean, maybe sitting out in a window overlooking the ocean from a far-off ridge. Does that set the scene?!?! Let put it on our mouths… Zing! Hello crunchy bright acidity, the kind that no one can help but gleek just thinking about. There is CO2 softly bubbling off the tongue, seemingly intensifying the acidity. The CO2 is residual all the way from fermentation… this wine clearly was not aggravated at all during production. The texture is… memorable, not satin but perhaps woolen… unrefined and indelicate, and I like it. It stands out. The weight is anything but light, and yet it is airy and energetic, floating off the tongue into my belly. All those good apple pie ingredients are still here, but with a background of stems from the foot stompage and overnight soak with skins in the winery. It adds a christmas wreath flavor to this holiday treat. Someone, please drink this with apple pie! (But actually a super fresh salad will do just as well as a pork chop with applesauce and mashed potatoes). 

Cheers, lads and lassies. This Chardonnay is no Burgundy, it’s much better… it’s OURS!

Leitmotif - Pinot Noir - Santa Barbara County, CA - 2017

Oh Stephen… If you don’t have a bit of a crush on Stephen Searle of Leitmotif, I know a few ladies on our team who would like to have a word. This man makes wines which are irresistible, as apparently, he is as well. No I will not name names! Aside from being cute as the handsomest kind of button, Stephen is a phenomenal winemaker. In fact, We’ve featured his wine in the past… This wine! (Well, the 2016 vintage, but you’ll know why we’re revisiting when you taste it). This wine is like Stephen. It’s undeniable! 

Ok, I’ll stop embarrassing him. Stephen is one of the best winemakers at any age in Santa Barbara. He’s the head winemaker at Jaffurs wine (a local super winery and one of the most well-known out of the county) where he makes mostly traditional bigger, higher alcohol Rhone Ranger style wines… Girthy. Leitmotif is Steve’s passion project, where he gets to make wines according to his own convictions. Leitmotif is this: Cold climate, organically grown, Central Coast grapes, fermented naturally, with no additions, no new oak, nothing except a minimal addition of SO2 at bottling. Cold Santa Barbara Pure. His Pinot is this through and through. 

This wine hails from two vineyards: Duvarita and Kick-On. Duvy, Duvee, or Duva, Duvarita is a world-class vineyard, farmed biodynamically, just west of the the extreme west edge of the santa Rita Hills. What does that mean? It means it’s really freaking cold there. Extreme is an appropriate term. The vines are trained low to protect from the constant sea winds, and to utilize the warmth that the ground stores from the sun. It is rarely sunny here for most of the day, the last place to clear from the daily layer of sea fog. It is an expression of truly cold coastal California, and it tastes like Santa Barbara. Oh yeah, let’s taste it. 

On the nose it’s Spicy, Fruity, Black Cherry, on a plate garnished with seaweed (as though the kelp bed off Vandenburg crawled up into the vines), and hey, some cacao sprinkled in too! It’s intense, it’s boisterous, it’s got this pop of freshness and yet seriousness that simply pulls the word excellent from my mouth. On the tongue, yep, still poppin’. With tart black cherries alley-ooping tightly packed balls of seaweed into a net of woven grape stems. This wine is delicious now, it’s delicious tomorrow, and I think your grandchildren will enjoy it too. (Ask me about picking up a case to lay down in your cellar… It’s more affordable than you’d think, but it will continue to get less and less so as these wines encounter the world). 

Stephen Searle ferments the truth. He speaks it too. Here’s his hot take on this vintage of Leitmotif Pinot: 

“The 2017 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir comes from two of the most marginal, westerly planted vineyards in the region. The coastal influence on these sites is easily observed from the air to the ground. Morning and evening fog provide a cooling blanket for the vines, while intense ocean winds control vigor and limit fruit set. Sandy, ancient seabed soils, which are well-drained and nutrient poor further stress the vines, producing wines of both eleganceand full expression of flavor. 60% stem-inclusion during fermentation enhances mouthfeel, while providing a savory complexity to balance out the floral and fruit qualities. This Pinot Noir was allowed to ferment spontaneously, with native yeasts indigenous to the vineyards,

further showcasing its regional character.”

YES, there is a reason this has become our house Pinot Noir. It is excellent, vibrant, definitely not Burgundy, every bit as memorable, clearly Santa Barbara, explicitly ours. You’re gonna love the way you look (with a glass in your hand this holidays) I guarantee it. 



We like Burgundy, 

But when the wind is Blundery,

And the winter clouds a’thundery

Strap on a cap, 

Give the Bottle a Slap,

And Dive into a Bottle Of SantaBarbargundy!

Chard & Pinot - That’s Holiday Cheer At Satellite.

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