Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Highliner Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2012: In the debate between whether Santa Maria Valley or Sta. Rita Hills pinot noir reigns supreme, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini wisely place their bet in the middle with their flagship wine Highliner, a blend from premium fruit from both regions. The exact vineyards shifts from vintage to vintage, but with the wealth of ripeness from 2012, they couldn’t go wrong.
This Highliner is voluptuous on the nose, tongue, and tastebuds; its violet notes don’t make it a shrinking violet. But mostly it offers rich red fruit that’s still lithe and subtle (and while delicious now, should age too). As it’s a Hitching Post wine it’s little surprise it would pair perfectly with medium rare red oak grilled steak; it actually gets 70% new French oak, but somehow avoids turning tannin-monster.