Thursday, April 5, 2012

Koehler Winery: Santa Barbara County Winery Visit

Our rapid fire winery tour of Santa Barbara County was winding to a close. We had time for just two more stops. Of course, when you are on the Foxen Valley Wine Trail, you can hardly make a bad choice. It didn’t take long to realize that Koehler was an excellent one.
The 100-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley has some of the best grapes in the region. While the surrounding areas might have 15-year old vines, Koehler boasts vines that are 30 and 40 years old. From start to finish, Koehler offered perhaps the strongest lineups of wines we tasted on our trip in which we visited more than 10 wineries.
We opened with the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, which we rated as great. It featured playful  citrus notes with racy acidity. The ‘09 Chardonnay was also a tasty wine and has won its share of awards. For us, the reds were the main attraction.
Leading the reds was the 2008 Grenache. It’s a rich, easy-drinking wine with aromas of red berries and a dash of oak. The Red Quartette is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 26% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and a 4% dollop of Cabernet Franc. It’s a nice value at $22.
Perhaps the star of the afternoon was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cleve, a member of our tasting troupe, said that he could spend the whole night with this wine. It is full-bodied with blackberry jam flavors.
We circled back for some more white, discovering their beautiful 2009 Viognier and a superb 2009 Chardonnay Reserve.
If we had no more wine, we would have been satisfied and considered Koehler an amazing boutique winery (they produce about 6,000 cases a year). But the vino kept coming and kept amazing our team.
The 2007 Magia Nera is a nice, rich blend of 65% Sangiovese and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon with sour cherry highlights.
The 2007 Estate Syrah is a statement wine: Look at what we can do!  This is a wine that could be cellared for a decade, but is ready to drink now with tasteful layers of plum, spice and earth. For only $30.
Rich, chocolaty and bold is how we describe the 2007 Cabernet Reserve, which sells for $55. With swirls of raspberry flavors, this is a wine that will satisfy for years to come.
The goal at Koehler is to produce premium wines at affordable prices and they are succeeding. In fact, these wines made such an impression on Cleve and cousin Mary that they joined the Koehler wine club.
As a wrap-up to a fine day of tasting, we toured the grounds of Koehler, which has picturesque picnic area and some happy goats in the surrounding fields.
Koehler was a highlight on our wine caravan and is certain to be a high point for you as well.
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