Climbing The Mountain
The name “LaMontagne” means the mountain. This Santa Barbara County winery has been on a quest to reach the mountain top of quality. Winemaker/owner Kim Smith produced her first vintage in 2010 and each year since then her work has been rewarded with gold medals.
Of course, the proof is in the bottle. Her focus is keeping the wine in the barrel until it “sings.” We had the opportunity to sample the 2014 LaMontagne Marshall Vineyard Malvasia and the 2013 LaMontagne Sta. Rita Hills Kessler-Haak Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Ancient Grape, Modern Taste
Malvasia has been around for about 2,000 years and is thought to originate in the area around the Aegean Sea. Malvasia is primarily a white wine grape, but has many subvarieties.
It has been used to great success in sweet and fortified wines, such as Madeira. Perhaps because I had not sought these other wines out, my experience is strictly with the dry Malvasia wine.
For our tasting we had the LaMontagne Malvasia with garlicky parmesan shrimp. The Malvasia has a perfumy, floral bouquet, but in the glass it doesn’t overwhelm the senses. It is delicate with white flower notes, apricot and a slight nuttiness. The aroma is similar to Gewürztraminer, but not as intense.
Serene Sta. Rita Pinot Noir
From our visits to Santa Barbara County, we know that Sta. Rita Hills is home to knockout Pinot Noir. In the hands of Kim Smith, that is an understatement.
The 2013 LaMontagne Kessler-Haak Vineyard Pinot Noir is a dreamy glass of Pinot Noir. Smith says that Sta. Rita Hills being a dead sea bed means so much more is going on in the bottle. We certainly found that to be the case.
We paired the Pinot Noir with a pineapple, mushroom and ham pizza. To be honest, the Green Dragon makes great homemade pizza, but my focus was entirely on the Pinot Noir.
This is a superlative Pinot Noir that could age for several more years and become even more stellar – like an ingot of gold growing in value! In the glass the Pinot Noir shimmers with flavor notes of strawberry and rhubarb. An undercurrent of minerality is part of the package.
The Kessler-Haak Vineyard Pinot has a SRP of $55. There were 98 cases produced and each bottle is worth seeking out. LaMontagne produced four Pinot Noir in the 2013 vintage, using different vineyards or grape clones. It would be a delightful experiment to sample each against each other. We suspect there would be many arguments about which is the finest – but no losers in the end.
LaMontagne is a landmark mountain worth visiting time and again!