WBW no. 12 – Local Yokel on Savvy Non Blank

foley estates 2003 sauvignon blanc
It’s the anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday, and the gran sommelier himself, Lenn of Lenndeavors, is playing host for this edition numero 12. His theme of choice, Drink Local, Real Local, just so happens to coincide with the Eat Local Challenge; though embarassingly, I have not been participating because, well, Doritos don’t grow on trees in LA.

Lenn’s theme isn’t difficult per se, for even though So Cal is a good six hour drive from the amazingness known as Napa Valley, everyone who’s anyone has seen the movie and knows that we are but a slightly drunken drive up the 101 along the coast to Santa Barbara’s wine country. Technically, it’s not Santa Barbara, the coastal city that inspired the day time soap opera I used to watch religiously in junior high. It’s Santa Barbara County, dotted with wine making towns off Highway 246: Buellton, Solvang (yes! windmills, waffle cones, and wine!), Los Olivos.

But here’s where Lenn’s theme is difficult. Santa Barbara, which include some better known wineries like Fess Parker and that one that belongs to the family of that ridiculous bachelor, Firestone, is 219.4 miles away from my humble abode, according to gmaps. Just 105.9 miles to the southeast, lies the Temecula Valley, a small but growing wine region in what used to be a wasteland between LA and San Diego. That’s like *gasp!* the IE. The Inland Empire. Who knew?

And here’s the stickiest part of all. Technically, the most local wine producing region to me is actually right here! In LA! 17.1 miles away, just off the 110, north of downtown LA, it’s the San Antonio Winery, that produces the Riboli family of wines. I know. A winery in LA? I mean really now, who knew?!?

Unfortunately, I fail this WBW, because my tasting is not from the San Antonio Winery, less than 20 miles away. (But remember, this is LA we’re talking about. Twenty miles, especially on the around that downtown loop of road rage, takes at leats 55 minutes *chuckle* and that’s on a good day, like Tuesday at 3 am. *grr*) I didn’t even taste a wine from Temecula. No, this is a 2003 Sauvignon Blanc from Foley Estates, in Santa Barbara. Hey, what can I say? It was a weekend roadtrip (more details on another day), and I wasn’t driving :)

grapes on teh vine
could have plucked the grapes right off the vine

Foley Estates was our first stop after filling up the tank in Solvang *raises fist to Heaven for the $$$ we spent per gallon* You see, unlike Napa and Sonoma wine countries, which offer winery after winery along a mostly straight shot along a single highway, the Santa Barbara wine country trail is long and convoluted through hills and valleys. It’s quite a drive. The small, modest, sometimes hidden entrances to neighboring wineries can be miles apart. We almost sped past Foley going the speed limit along Alamo Pintado Road.

Certainly, every winery that offers consumer tastings to market and sell their wine is beautiful, set deep in a wooded area, or high atop a hill overlooking verdant vineyards. But Foley Estates is especially gorgeous, so much that even couples and groups that weren’t there for tasting Foley bring baskets and picnic right there on the broad, shaded patio.
In the glass, Foley 2003 Sauvignon Blanc is such a pale yellow that I could almost call it a deep ivory, if there were such a thing. There was just the faintest bit of green, but who knows, that might have been the natural light reflecting off the vines outside, coming in through the windows or perhaps I caught the edge of a wayward tourist’s olive drab Gap khakis in my glass. Either way, it was very lightly colored.

I did the *sniff* but here is where my rookie-self takes over. Shall I lie and come up with all these wonderful words to describe…overtones of citrus, undertones of herbs, more specifically fresh mown grass, with an almost imperceptible hint of lily of the valley? No, I can’t. I’m not there yet (but I’ll get there!). Besides, that would all be totally wrong anyway, according to the winemaker’s notes LOL! To me, it just smelled like…wine. Very light, very happy, singing-in-the-shower, fruity wine.

It tastes, in one word, delicious. I loved it. Just like it looks, this sauvignon blanc is light and crisp as air, with something that makes me pucker in a good way. I will say that though I couldn’t smell it, I could definitely taste grapefruits. If wine were a kiss, and deep dark reds are like a long luscious, passionate dewy-eyed good-bye French kiss wrapped in velvet, this sauvignon blanc is a giddy, smiling, peck peck peck of a whimsical citrus hello. I could have drank the whole bottle; just sat right there under the Califonia sun and drank every last refreshing drop of it.

Sensational. And only 219 miles away.

219 miles might get you through three states in some parts of this country, but it’s still pretty local for southern California :)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LACheesemonger August 11, 2005 at 12:41 pm

Hmm, with so, so much text here; if I had all day, I think I could write a few pages of going off on each of these paragraphs with sidebars, lol.

Where do I start :-)

Ah summer cool Sauvignon Blanc, I think the Cheesestore is having a tasting of these and some Chard’s, was it this week, yesterday; or September’s tasting?

See now, I am scared for life after reading too much DL. I used to be able to eat food & drink wine with hedonistic flavor sensation abandon. Now every time I look at food, taste, it; contemplate wine for all it’s worth; it’s either become a Sarah version of passionate lovemaking, or some tawdry, lascivious, lustful, wanton journey into soft-core food porn… to quote Sarah “No, I can’t. I’m not there yet (but I’ll get there!)” ;). You’ve ruined me Sarah, damn you! ;-)

(and no sixy Sam, this is not that post… it’s coming ;) … *4Jenns*

The French typically do a better job with Sauv. Bl.; not sure if they have different clones, or just something about Calif. micro-climates, etc. That being said, I really don’t like most CA Sauv.Bl.’s exactly because of that ‘grassy’ component. And likewise, with except of top Bordeaux’s from mostly physiologically ripe Merlot grapes, my sentiments are the same as Miles in Sideways. Reason, almost all CA merlots are chock full of massive herbaceous-ness of an unpleasing variety. This is not the Herbs de Provence you often find in top southern French wines. And noted British wine critic Jancis Robinson says of New Zealand Suav. Bl. (I guess she would know?) “they have that typcial, what we like to call ‘cat piss’ aroma”…yuck, I’ll pass.


2 LACheesemonger August 11, 2005 at 1:40 pm

Alright, while they might not be made here; we do have a few vineyard’s just down the road from where Sarah lives. Michael McCarty’s of the famous restaurant of his own name, has is own vineyard on his property on the hillside of Malibu; but you’ll probably need to go to the restaurant to get that expensive singular wine.

Closer still, we have Moraga vineyards in the upper canyon/hilltop portion of Bel-Air, who’s micro-climate sees an annual average of 40in of precipitation (more than Seattle). They make a NON-grassy regal, refined, delicate Sauv. Bl.; there’s a touch of oak, but not too much. Expensive, but better than most. They usually have it at the Cheesestore. But the website description is a bit misleading, IMHO. “extraordinary structure”… meaning they over-acidified the wine, heh? No there’s not too much acidity, and it’s definitely not as rich as they want you to believe.

Moraga Suav. Bl.

Sonoma’s famed Rochioli winery, used to make a ‘Reserve’ version of their Sauv.Bl. (discontinued 1997 :( ). But their regular version is still one of the better ones.

And then we come to a Sauv. Bl. like no other DL has ever tried, a Sauv. Bl. made by a real ‘red wine’ producer. So boldly strong, rich, and powerful; filled with a cornucopia of nearly over-ripe smorgasbord of viscous, drippy melons, and tropical fruits… it’s downright porn wine, lol

Why I think I have a picture here of a partially consumed bottle… it went quite well with the steamed Dim Sum, and the deep-fried, snowcrab leg, shrimp balls… weekend special from? (it’s secret ;) ). Perfect compliment to the 2 Zinfandels, that work best with the sweet-sour sauce (from Royal Star, not the Taiwanese like, overly sour/tart versions in most So. Cal ‘HK Style’ seafood restaurants) and deep-fried Dim Sum items.

Brogan Cellars Sauv. Bl. is not for the timid/wussy types, tons of ripe fruit carried by almost too much oak (it’s a FOOD wine, do not drink alone or you will detest the oak)
With about, 14.4% alcohol in a typical vintage; I’d say with the wretched humidity that’s still melting me like the wicked witch of the North; a bottle of this with delicious Sarah this past weekend would have had us both singing in the shower…together, lol.

BTW, that is not me, pixelated in the photo (I’m taking the picture silly, using a crappy 2.1MP 1997 digicam). And don’t be deterred by not being able to capture all of the subtle nuances in the Pinot Noir like Miles did. If you get the sweet ripened sexy raspberry/cherry nauces from the Pinot Noir, you’re already on your way to Pinot estacsy, top Pinot Noir is easily appreciated by almost all.

Unlike the broad shouldered Bordeaux or bombastic big, huge, reds of Calif/Australia; fine Pinot Noir (not really that much in CA, IMO) or Burgundy needs to be appreciated for it’s subtle sensuality and delicate complexities. It’s kind of like you need to spend time exploring all that sophisticated femininity as in Sarah, compared to those skanky Paris/Pammy types of wine that have it hanging out all over the place for simplistic gratification. (Did I just say that, hehe; and no sixy Sam, this is not that post either, lol).

3 Amigos
Dim Sum and then sum


3 Rachael August 11, 2005 at 5:52 pm

AH HAH. You forgot the Filipi winery too. I went there in the Spring and loved it. (Trashy locale and all)I think I even wrote a review, but cant seem to find it. Oh well!



4 sarah August 11, 2005 at 6:17 pm

now now, cheesemonger, i think you are reading innuendos that aren’t even there, lol!

and thanks for the tip, rachael! seriously, who knew that the LA area had such things? i learn something new every hour. :)


5 LACheesemonger August 14, 2005 at 6:35 am

Hehe, Delicious Sexy Life; I don’t expect you to admit to ‘innuendoes’ on this blog… but

Just make sure that folder of pics you send me to Photoshop enhance, doesn’t have any mistakingly included Paris Hilton type pics. LOL.

Of course I have no such pics. in my portfolio :)


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