A winery with a history that is centuries old and a viticulturist who’s a local legend are separated by an ocean and joined by fine wine.
This week, wines from vastly different parts of the world, from wineries whose experience runs deep are classic bottlings.
It’s remarkable the value at which Lucas and Lewellen Pinot Noir 2016 ($20) can be purchased. Veteran viticulturist Louis Lucas is the vineyard whisperer. His full immersion into a vineyard yields dramatic results.
For this Pinot, he had 40 years to work with the Goodchild and Los Alamos Vineyards in the Santa Barbara County AVA. While he’s dialed into the vineyard, focused on what varietals will excel in certain vineyards and how to manage the vines so they will produce the best possible fruit, success also comes through a strong relationship with his winemaker, Megan McGrath Gates.
“In the morning ,I like to be in the vineyards,” Lucas said. “In the afternoon, I want to go to the winery and see the results. I know how to manage the vineyard. I want to relate to how it comes together in the winery, as well.”
It came together as a classic in 2016 with the Santa Barbara County Pinot and its full body that had raspberry, clove, cinnamon stick and exotic spice flavors tied around its core. The flavors are deep and long-lasting.
Grown in limestone soils in a region in Germany that has been growing wine grapes since 1663, Weingut Wittmann Riesling 2016 ($14) is a zesty, fresh white with lime, lemon meringue and a rich, round mouthfeel. An almond hint on the nose almost turns creamy on the finish yet there’s a salinity on the finish that keeps it so fresh and zippy.
“For sure, the influence of the limestone soils is enormous,” winemaker Philipp Wittmann said. “It gives the wine a unique texture and quite a salty finish.”
Farmed biodynamically since 2004, Wittman said the change in farming has produced better fruit.
“We have reached a better growing balance in the vineyards,” Wittman said. “The result is that we do have longer hanging times of the fruits in a stable and healthy structure.”
• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at email@example.com.