The California Wine Destination You Should Know
No one needs to tell you about Napa or Sonoma. Any wine lover worth his or her salt is familiar with California’s most famous wine regions. What if I could tell you about a California wine destination that isn’t overrun by tourists and shuttle buses and is producing outrageously great wine? That location is Santa Barbara County.
Located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara has long been a hideaway for movie stars. It’s also the home to incredible wine, some highlighted in the 2004 movie, Sideways. Pinot Noir and great Chardonnay are certainly front and center in Santa Barbara County, and Ballard Canyon is making a name for bold, expressive Syrah. There are more than 200 wineries in Santa Barbara County and we love the stunning beauty of the area and the friendly, slower-paced vibe.
Uncorking Some Aged Goodness
We’ve visited Santa Barbara County twice and at our last visit we were poured some wine from Core Winery. We were impressed and later bought two bottles of their 2007 Core Elevation Sensation through an online site. I’ve gotten into the habit of buying multiple bottles so that one can be enjoyed immediately (which we did) and the other can be laid down for aging. It was time to take the pulse of the second bottle.
In North Carolina, we don’t get the harsh sub-zero temperatures we used to experience up north. However, a 30 degree day here can seem mighty cold – and really, we don’t need much of an excuse to open a bottle of big, bold red wine. So we did.
Tower Of Power
When we opened the first bottle four years ago, we were rocked by the sheer force of the wine. Big flavors and at 15.1% ABV, it was a bit on the “hot side.”
The 2007 version of Elevation Sensation is a 62% Grenache, 38% Mourvedre blend. There were 600 cases produced. The vines were planted in decomposed granite soil in the Alta Mesa Vineyard, which sits at 3,200 feet perched above the Cuyama Valley.
Mountain-grown vines tend to have grapes with more concentrated flavors. The wind and soils mean the vines struggle and yield fewer grapes – but each packed with intense flavors. Perhaps it is just mental imagery, but I can taste the breeze and intense sunlight in the glass.
Twelve years on from the vintage date, we can report that the Elevation Sensation is still going strong. Some wines become a mere shadow of their former self with a decade or so of aging. Not so with this offering from Core.
I had expected Core Elevation to be meeker and milder, but it wasn’t. It is still a rambunctious sensation and needs some time to settle down in the glass. The wait is worth it. It is a big wine with briary, blueberry flavors mixed with dark fruit. There is a bit of tartness and a silky finish. This wine could benefit from 45 minutes to an hour of decanting.
The current vintage is 2012 and I see that the blend has changed with the addition of Carignan and Syrah. The cost is $35 and well worth the purchase. In fact, we recommend two!