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TAZ Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2003

Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
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Winemaker Notes

In blending this 2003 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, we pulled together fruit from Santa Maria Valley and the Santa Rita Hills-two very different sites with contrasting signatures."The Fiddlestix Vineyard in Santa Rita gives dark fruits and brooding flavors, a concentrated and rich expression of Pinot Noir."The North CanyonVineyard in Santa Maria Valley delivers more delicate accents, with soft, pretty cinnamon and strawberry notes."When blended, you get a blackberry burst in the wine with cola spice and juicy jammy berry notes supported by a balancing act of tannins and structure. The resulting wine has breadth and an evenness we strive for with this tricky variety. -Natasha Boffman, Winemaker

Critical Acclaim

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TAZ
TAZ, , California
TAZ
TAZ Vineyards, like many artisan producers in Santa Barbara County, is located in a winemaker's cooperative warehouse in Santa Maria. Vision and fervent passion earned Bob "Taz" Steinhauer the Tasmanian devil nickname. From the vineyards to the scale houses, this nickname stuck as he feverishly led the development of some of California's most notable vineyards. While his legendary career spanned four decades of grape growing in the Napa Valley, it was the rustic spirit of Santa Barbara that stole his heart. Perfect soils and climate led him to this spectacular region to plant vineyards.

"Taz" Steinhauer is considered a pioneer whose unswerving dedication to unlocking the secrets of the Central Coast over the past several years has contributed directly to the rising acclaim for wines from the region. He shared his passion and his insights broadly with local growers, always pushing for higher levels of quality and an approach that allowed each vineyard to evolve to its fullest viticultural expression.

Highly regarded for distinctive and age-worthy red wines, Rioja is Spain’s most celebrated wine region and also home to whites of equivalent quality but lesser renown. Made up of three different sub-regions of varying elevation—Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja—wines are typically a blend of fruit from all three, although single-zone wines are beginning to gain in popularity. Rioja Alta, at the highest elevation, is considered to be the source of the brightest, most elegant fruit, while grapes from the warmer and drier Rioja Baja produce wines with deep color and high alcohol which mainly serve to add body to a blend. While fresh and fruity Riojas labeled “Joven” undergo minimal aging before release, a hallmark of more serious Rioja wines is the aroma and flavor of new oak—traditionally American, which imparts characteristics of dill, coconut, vanilla, and spice to the wine. Tighter-grained, subtler French oak, however, is becoming increasingly common. Crianza and Reserva styles are aged at least one year in oak, and Gran Reserva at least two, but in practice this maturation period is often quite a bit longer—up to about fifteen years.

Tempranillo provides the backbone of Rioja red wines, providing complex notes of red and black fruit, leather, and tobacco, while Garnacha supplies body and alcohol. In smaller percentages, Graciano and Mazuelo often serve as “seasoning” with additional flavors and aromas. These same varieties are responsible for flavorful dry rosés. White wines are made mostly from crisp, fresh Viura, which is usually blended with aromatic Malvasia and weighty Garnacha Blanca. White Rioja has traditionally been made in a nutty, oxidative style, though a bright, unoaked version is currently in vogue.

Tempranillo

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Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.

In the Glass

Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.

Perfect Pairings

Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.

Sommelier Secret

The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.

SOU150395_2003 Item# 85376

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