E Wine of the Week

E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran

Santa Barbara’s new wines
Hello Everyone,
This month we have some beautiful and exciting wine regions to explore, as new wines continue to appear on wine retailers’ shelves and restaurant wine lists around the state. We begin closer to home, and quickly work out to far away places. Wine is a great way to learn a little something about the world.

If you’re in Little Rock, my After Work Wine Tasting will be at Loca Luna on Tuesday. We’ll taste some great wines with a selection of chef and owner Mark Abernathey’s wine-friendly Tuscan pizza’s, from Loca Luna’s authentic wood fired pizza oven. The cost is $20 for four wines (three ounces each, that’s half a bottle) and the pizzas. As always, no reservations needed, just drop by anytime from 5 to 7 p.m. and taste through the wines and the Tuscan pizzas at your own pace. James Cripps and I will see you there, wine glass in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other.Loca Luna is at the foot of Cantrell Hill in Little Rock, just off Cantrell Road. The phone number is (501) 663-4666.

Try a new wine this week!


Aqua Pumpkin Chardonnay
Located on the south end of California’s Central Coast, Santa Barbara County has become famous for rich yet elegant chardonnay and pinot noir. More recently, parts of Santa Barbara County are becoming known for Rhone varietals, particularly syrah. Today there are more than 60 wineries and 21,000 acres of vineyards, mostly in three districts: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Rita Hills, each with its own distinct climate.

Santa Maria Valley
Far smaller than the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley runs east to west, allowing Pacific fog and coastal breezes to enter, extending the fall ripening period and allowing the grapes more time to develop flavor. Much of the region is planted to chardonnay and pinot noir, with a large part of that in three famous vineyards: Tepusquet, Sierra Madre and Bien Nacido.

Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley is the largest wine region in Santa Barbara County. It’s a long valley formed by the San Raphael Mountains on the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the south. The western section is tempered by the Pacific, and is planted mostly in chardonnay and pinot noir. Up the Santa Ynez River to the east inland, the elevation rises nearly 1,000 feet.
At this higher altitude, in north-south running side canyons, vineyards experience higher temperature fluctuations between daytime and night and a warmer climate overall. This is where much of the region’s syrah is planted.

Santa Rita Hills
Santa Rita Hills is one of California’s newest, and maybe best, cool-climate wine regions. It’s very small, and until recently was mostly considered as a part of western Santa Ynez Valley. The leading grape varieties are chardonnay and pinot noir, as well as some syrah. The Santa Rita Hills also benefit from Pacific breezes, leading to low yields and intense flavors. The official name is Sta. Rita Hills, changed to resolve a dispute with Chilean winery Vina Santa Rita.
Aqua Pumpkin Chardonnay, 2006 Santa Barbara County, shows the combination of richness and elegance, intense flavors in a balanced style that have become a hallmark of Santa Barbara County wines. It retails for around $15.99.

Categories: Legacy Archive