During a recent trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, a few friends and I had the pleasure to visit some amazing wineries and taste some stunning wines. As Steve J. said in one of his recent posts, one should not be afraid to try and discover new wines… and that’s exactly what we did. One of the highlights was the Palmina Winery and tasting room. This might have been one of my favorite places considering the amazing experience and how much fun we all had – and lucky for you, I’m about to share it with you.
That weekend, we visited about 10 wineries, all in Santa Barbara County. So why did I enjoy Palmina so much? Well for starters, I really liked their wine. Palmina keeps their production quantities low, which allows them to produce crafty, high quality Italian varietals. But there was definitely something else; it was the ambiance and the special warmth we all felt as soon as we stepped inside their tasting room. Palmina is a “California celebration of the rich, wonderful lifestyle and attitude towards food, wine, friends and family that exists in Italy.” THAT is exactly what I go after when tasting new wines.
Palmina’s tasting room is located in the bustling industrial park of Lompoc called “Wine Ghetto”. There are no vast estates with rolling hills here, but the opulent interior decor and friendly staff make up for it. Our host Erena treated us like royalty – and who doesn’t like that?! She gave us the choice between their Traditional and Artisanal tasting. We chose both, of course!
Palmina offers a wide selection of wines and varietals. I will highlight one in each of the featured categories.
Their 2011 Arneis is a very versatile wine – delightful for “apéritif” but also a wine with enough body and personality to hold its own with a wide range of strongly flavored food (prosciutto, pesto, grilled seafood…) The tasting notes say “rich in body, layered in texture and with an exotic mélange of stone fruits, minerality and spice that finishes with a reminder of perfectly baked Madeleines.” Arneis is also a white wine that will continue to evolve with a few years of cellar aging. Get it for $20 and serve chilled.
While studying in Italy, Chrystal (the winemaker’s wife) quickly understood the delights of a dry rosato. This “little project” was nicknamed “Botasea”, which translates to “little barrel” in the Venetian dialect. The 2011 Botasea is “brisk and refreshing to the taste buds, summertime watermelon, raspberry, mulberry and peach notes lead to refined tannins reminiscent of red rhubarb and garden spice of mace and sage. Flavorful nuances of hibiscus and red plum linger on the uplifting and zesty finish.” This wine pairs beautifully with spicy food, barbecue, or picnic lunches on a warm summer day.
All the elements fall into place beautifully in this powerful, intense and virile Nebbiolo, scoring 92 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The 2007 Nebbiolo Sisquoc Vineyard boasts tremendous length and purity. I especially like the intensity of the fruit here. “Dark red fruit, licorice, leather and tobacco flesh out on a firm yet balanced finish supported by insistent veins of salinity.” Sisquoc is highly consumable right away, though it will continue to age well and become even more complex and compelling with up to 10 years of cellaring. The winemaker recommends decanting the wine prior to enjoying with friends. With less than 150 cases produced, this specialty wine can be yours for $50.
A great blend is the hallmark of a great winemaker. The 2009 Savoia is clearly an artisanal display of the winemaker’s skill and “savoir-faire”. Savoia blends three varietals; Nebbiolo (50%), Barbera (25%) and Syrah (25%). “Soft tannins, lilting acidity and wild herb, cherry, truffle characteristics of Nebbiolo merging with the beautiful dark color and red fruit notes of Barbera, and combining with the smooth texture, rich flavors and spice of Syrah … The first sip is velvety and bursts with red plum, mushrooms and clove, a hint of dried sage and a reminder raspberry compote. On the palate, a bright acidity surrounds nuances of red rhubarb and black currant before leading to a long, enduring finish of black cherry and elegant, tea-like tannin.” This amazing blends sells for $50.
Time for dessert! Simply pour 2 to 3 ounces of Palmina’s after-dinner wine, a 2006 Santita. Throw in a little biscotti and let the delicious wine soak in for a few minutes before trifling with this heavenly combination. Time and labor is the source of this intense and beautiful balanced wine, with “notes of honeycomb, acacia, orange blossom and asian pear inviting a sip. Slightly sweet and slightly tart, with overtones of sherried fruit, the palate is rewarded with apricot, orange peel and hazelnut notes. This is a voluptuous wine that lasts and lasts, with a reminder of treacle tart and almond-like nuttiness lingering on the palate.” Not too heavy, not too sweet and nicely balanced with a light acidity to perfectly round off a great meal. Party in your mouth guaranteed! You can get it for $50.
Palmina is a passion project shared between husband and wife Chrystal and Steve Clifton. Just like in Italy, Palmina’s focus is to craft wines expressly made to complement and enhance food. Their belief parallels that of their colleagues in Italy in that the original foods of the area should always complement the flavors found in their regional wines, and vice versa.
Palmina’s winemaking practice uses old world methods with new world attitude to produce wines of distinction. A great deal of their efforts are placed in the vineyards, where they are closely involved with all development and growing aspects of the grape.
I am so glad to have experienced Palmina’s “joie de vivre”, or should I say “gioia di vivere.” The special attention and distinct quality they put into the winemaking process is definitely noticeable and if you happen to be in the area, make sure to swing by their tasting room and tell them Wine Ponder sent you.