Stretching 250 miles south from the San Francisco Bay to Santa Barbara County is the Central Coast Wine Region, a coastal sprawl responsible for about 15% of California’s total wine production. In the northern parts of the Central Coast, Chardonnay tends to dominate the plantings, with Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon also playing significant roles. The cool, maritime-influenced climate along with the fertile and gravely soil contribute to Chardonnay’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors, and the extended growing season yields concentrated Merlot and Cabernet. Some of the top northern Central Coast AVAs include, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey. South of Monterey, the Paso Robles AVA has garnered fame for its wines produced from Rhône varieties, Cabernet and Zinfandel. At the southern end of the Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (made famous as the backdrop for the movie Sideways) fosters a microclimate perfectly suited for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are the force behind the region’s wine production. Within Santa Barbara, the AVAs of Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley and Sta. Rita Hills yield some of California’s most-excellent Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. For a full list of ratings and reviews of wines in the area, simply reference our Central Coast Wine Ratings.
Without doubt this is a wine to cellar. It’s massive in flavor, with the purist blackcurrant and cassis fruit you can imagine, and the huge plaster of sweet oak is perfectly balanced. Then there are the tannins. They’re fine and complex, but gritty. There’s an astringency throughout that a great steak will cut through, but it would be infanticide to open this…
Stunning. Just magnificent. This is from Tantara’s little Bien Nacido block. It achieves wonderfully ripe fruit flavors with clean, balancing tannins and acids to produce the utmost California cool-climate Pinot Noir. Cherries, raspberries, cola, rich new oak and Asian spice flavors all flood the palate, wrapped into a dramatic silky, velvety texture. This is great…
This is a great 2005 Pinot Noir, the best ever from Talley. The wine somehow combines huge ripe fruit with delicacy. It floods the mouth with profound currant, cherry pie, licorice, cola, raspberry, cocoa and vanilla smoke flavors, yet feels light and silky, and is thoroughly dry. That’s the magic of Pinot Noir. You can enjoy this small production wine now, and it…
Combines a delicate, floral lightness with a potent intricacy to produce a wine of vast intellectual interest. Dry and somewhat tannic, and crisp in tangy acidity, this small-production Pinot features tiers of tart red cherries, rosehip tea, cola, mint, lavender, anise and pepper, edged with the honeyed sweetness of smoky, glazed oak. A tremendous achievement, and…
This very dense, tannic Pinot Noir represents a triumph for both the winery, the vintage and the region it represents. A multi-clone blend (hence the name) with high, cool-climate acidity and aged in 100% new oak, it’s still young, fresh and tight. The astringency throws a cloak over the raspberries, cherries, rosehip tea and Indian spice flavors, which reveal…
Fantastic, fabulous, a stupendously good Syrah that shows off Bien Nacido at its most perfect. Totally dry, with sturdy but ultra-refined tannins, it displays massive waves of blackberries, black currants, blueberries, smoked meat, violets, sandalwood and black pepper. Just beginning to find its groove, it should develop for many years.
A gigantic wine, one of the most powerful Syrahs in memory. Shows fabulously rich tannins from stem fermentation, sweet, spicy and earthy. The aromas and flavors are of mushrooms, grilled meat, blackberries, cherries, cola, black pepper and smoky cedar. Extraordinary depth and complexity, a very great California Syrah. Could soar off the charts in the next 2–3 years.
The fruit is massive, succulent in pineapple custard, Key lime pie and roasted coconut, and the oak is also powerful in new, charred character. There there's the brilliant acidity that makes it all work.