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Black Sheep Finds Hocus Pocus Pinot Noir 2013
Peter got his start in winemaking in 2001 at Stolpman Vineyards and was the Assistant Winemaker there until 2006. He is also one of the founding members of Piedrasassi and Holus Bolus wines. During this time he gained experience working with Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Roussanne. After meeting Amy spitting wine over the winery drains in Lompoc in 2004, they founded Black Sheep Finds with the arrival of the 2005 vintage.
Amy's foray into the wine world began with a childhood dream to win an Oscar. While she waited for her golden statue, she worked as a sommelier at one of LA’s finest restaurants. This translated into a weekend jaunt to Santa Barbara where she met her future husband and fellow Black Sheep, Peter Hunken. A whirlwind romance involving a terrible, but cheap, apartment in Koreatown, countless hours of Ryan Adams and Damien Rice songs and bottles upon bottles of Muller Catoir Riesling turned serious. On a long hike in Santa Barbara in 2005, the idea of Black Sheep Finds was bantered about and just a few months later the first Syrah grapes for Hocus Pocus were being made into wine. Unlike the Oscar it all happened so fast.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.