Santa Barbara County remains one of the most exciting regions in California. As I have written here before, Santa Barbara is home to an extraordinary range of wines; from cool-climate, ocean-influenced Chardonnays, Pinots and Syrahs, to richer Sauvignon Blancs and Bordeaux-based reds, and everything in between. But it’s more than just the wines. Santa Barbara is driven by an intriguing interplay of the old and the new, all seen through the prism of a rich cultural fabric with influences from Old World European, Chumash Indian and Latino traditions.
Full Article: http://vinous.com/articles/santa-barbara-county-on-the-road-aug-2015
Dierberg Vineyard and Star Lane
2014 SLSB: 89 points
A refreshing, light-bodied wine, the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is a lovely wine to drink now and over the next year or two. Melon, white peach and flowers open up in the glass, while more typically varietal green/grassy notes aren’t particularly evident.
2013 DBSY-HC 91 points
Tobacco, cedar, leather, game and dried cherries are pushed forward in the 2013 Syrah Star Lane Vineyard. Slightly rustic, angular contours remain, but the 2013 is certainly not lacking in personality. Spice, leather and tobacco add nuance on the chewy finish. Winemaker Tyler Thomas tempered some of the natural richness from this warm Happy Canyon site with a dollop of whole clusters. The 2013 spent 20 months in French oak, just 10% new. Tasted next to the Dierberg, the Star Lane is brawnier and a bit less finessed, but also delicious in its own way.
2013 SLME 92 points
The 2013 Merlot is plump, juicy and forward, all qualities that make it an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years. Dark red cherry, mint, tobacco, cedar and savory notes meld into the creamy, voluptuous finish. Drink this expressive, mid-weight Merlot over the next handful of years.
2013 Cabernet Franc 91+ points
The 2013 Cabernet Franc is powerful and intense, but it isn’t especially varietal for what this grape can be, so its hard to see the rationale for bottling the Franc alone. Nevertheless, this is a serious red that needs time in bottle to fully come together. Sweet herbs, tobacco and smoke add nuance, while floral overtones give the finish an attractive sense of lift. It will be interesting to see if and to what extent the tannins soften, as they are imposing today.
2012 SLCS 93 points
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe, bold and exuberant, with tons of intensity and voluptuousness on display. Ripe red cherry, smoke, tobacco, plum, menthol and new leather are some of the many aromas and flavors that jump from the glass in this flamboyant, super-expressive Cabernet Sauvignon from Star Lane. The 2012 is not the last word on complexity, but it is incredibly delicious and should continue to offer fine drinking for the better portion of the next decade, give or take.
2011 SLCS 90 points
Star Lane’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a super-classic profile of cedar, smoke, tobacco, licorice, leather and game. The 2011 is a touch rough around the edges, but nicely balanced at the same time. Hints of red cherry, plum, smoke, game and incense reappear on the finish. Like so many wines in this vintage, the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is not super complex, nor is it built for aging, but it is absolutely delicious now and should drink well for at least a handful of years.
2011 Astral 92 points
The 2011 Astral Cabernet Sauvignon boast serious depth and intensity, especially within the context of the vintage. A big, powerful wine, the 2011 delivers tons of intensity, even if some angular contours remain. Game, smoke, savory herbs, leather and sage add the final shades of nuance. The 2011 is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon (from own-rooted vines) and 23% Cabernet Franc, a high level of Franc to see in a blend, but then again, the Franc here is proving to be quite distinctive.
2013 DBCH 93 points
The 2013 Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard is super-polished and finessed from start to finish. Scents of almond, lemon peel and flowers open up in this striking, effortless Chardonnay. Orange peel and slightly more tropical notes develop with air in a Chardonnay that offers superb textural depth and tons of personality, all in a laid-back, understated style that is such a signature of Santa Maria.
DBPN-SMV 91 points
The 2013 Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard is plump, juicy and full of up-front appeal. Dark red cherry, violets, rose petal and mint abound in a succulent, nicely textured Pinot to drink over the next handful of years. This is an especially open-knit vintage for the Dierberg. The 2013 was fermented with a touch of whole clusters and spent 15 months in French oak barrels, 25% new.
DBPN-SRH 89 points
A big, boisterous wine, the 2013 Pinot Noir Drum Canyon is full of exuberant energy. Sweet red cherry, spice, kirsch and cola notes abound. The Drum Canyon doesn’t quite have the complexity that is such a signature of the Dierberg, but its forward, supple personality makes it an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years. In this vintage, winemaker Tyler Thomas opted to use a little more new oak (20%) than normal to give the wine greater body, but the oak signatures also seem to attenuate the fruit.
DBSY-SMV 94 points
The 2013 Syrah Dierberg Vineyard is gorgeous. Fresh, aromatic and nuanced throughout, the Syrah speaks to finesse above all else. Today, the flavors are naturally quite primary, yet the 2013 possesses remarkable balance, with super-expressive aromatics and silky tannins, both of which add to an overall feeling of finesse. The 2013 was cofermented with 9% and a dollop of whole clusters, followed by 20 months in neutral oak. Winemaker Tyler Thomas moved up the pick date in 2013 and used a little bit more Viognier, two decisions that have paid off in spades. This is a stellar showing from Dierberg. Both bottles I tasted were superb.