It was a much more intimate group than The Independent‘s volunteer wine sipping crew is used to, but the most recent office tasting — held outdoors on October 12 atop a folding table in our parking lot — revealed a number of truly winning wines. Our challenge was all red this time around, from merlots to syrahs to zinfandels.
And, since it took more than a month for this article to come out, the tasting was rewarded with a bit of exciting news this week, when Wine Spectator named one of these wines as #12 on their annual Top 100 list. That would be the Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel 2009, one of 26 California wines being given that exalted honor. (Read about the four Santa Barbara County-related wines on the list here.)
As to our October 12 tasting, The Independent‘s food editor George Yatchisin neatly summed up his highlight of the night, explaining, “A fine night for the many moods of merlot — a not surprisingly more rustic big, big fruit version from Sagebrush Annie’s, a more perfumy and heavier-on-the-candy one from Gainey, and then the out-and-out sophisticated Star Lane, full of deep berry flavors and finishing with a tingly tongue-coat of tannins.” Add to that some highly different syrahs and a series of serious Sonoma County zinfandels, and we had the makings of an intriguing evening.
Here’s what we all thought.
Sagebrush Annie’s Stone Pine Vineyard 2009: This wine landed Larry Hogan’s Cuyama Valley winery its 38th gold medal in six years. We too were pleased with the product, with tasters commenting: “deep prunes,” “tart and velvet,” “exciting mountain sage aftertaste.” ($32; 15.3%; sagebrushannies.com)