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Sunset Rare & Reserve Tasting - California Wine Festival


Chase Palm Park Plaza at the Carousel, 323 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA


Sunset Rare & Reserve was the third event of the California Wine Festival.  It was held on Friday, July 17th from 6.30pm – 9pm and featured 47 Californian wineries and 13 restaurant and food providers.


Chase Palm Park Plaza is directly opposite Santa Barbara’s East Beach and offers amazing views of the Channel Islands and Santa Ynez mountains.  The park’s antique Carousel was a beautiful backdrop to the event and is still in use.  It was the perfect venue for an evening of amazing wines and great company as the setting sun cast a purple shadow over the mountains.


Tonight’s music came from a couple of young ladies playing keyboards/guitar and singing.  They were sitting up by the Carousel and the music was a kind of cross between folk and country. 


It was a beautiful sunny evening and upon arrival, we were handed a glass of the non-vintage Laetitia Brut Cuvee, a sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc (  It was extremely light and refreshing; a very good start.


Below are a couple of new faces I met:


Heather Lane

Heather is Director of Hospitality at Niner Wine Estates, which is located in Paso Robles.  She joined the team in 2010 and is also a qualified Sommelier.  Niner Wine Estates are known for producing 100% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


Angela Bryson

Angela is Director of Sales & Marketing for Westerly Wines which is based in the Happy Canyon AVA of the Santa Ynez Valley.  Happy Canyon is the easternmost growing region in Santa Barbara County, and was designated an official AVA in 2009.  A number of their wines have received more than 90 Parker points.


Below are some memorable wines:


J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines (

2009 Merlot Bordeaux blend - plummy, black fruit, smooth finish

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – extremely soft and starting to show effects of age on the rim.  Beautiful wine.


Tara Bella Winery (

2008 Cabernet Sauvignons Clone 4 (the Argentine clone)

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 7 (the French clone)

My favourite was the French, but both of these were stand out wines for me.

Steven Kent Winery (

2011 Lineage - 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec - ripe black fruit, soft tannins and a very long finish


Le Cuvier Winery (

2011 John Munch Signature Series Malbec - 90% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of their top wines from very low yielding dry farmed fruit, fermented with natural yeasts and prolonged ageing.  This wine is only made in exceptional years.  Fantastic wine.


Westerly Wines (

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot - very bold, hints of cedar, ripe blackcurrants, cassis and fine supporting tannins 

2010 Fletchers Red - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 23% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc - mouth-filling, black fruit and a very long finish

2012 Pinot Noir – simply stunning 


Lone Madrone (

2009 Bollo - 100% Nebbiolo - tannins softer than the Italian equivalent - great wine 

2011 Tannat - good structure, black core 

2012 Martiners Zinfandel – dry farmed, low yields, incredibly concentrated and at $60 a bottle, worth every penny


Vinemark Cellars (

2012 Mezzanotte – 75% Primitivo and 25% Petite Syrah - black pepper, black fruit, fine grained tannins and hint of oak

2009 Primitivo – spicy with very silky tannins.  Beautiful wine.


Chateau Margene (

2012 Cielo Rosso - 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot - very elegant, soft ripe tannins 

2013 Mooney Family Label Chardonnay - ripe tropical fruit; guava, pear and mango, fermented 50% in stainless steel, 50% in oak, with no malolactic fermentation

2013 Mooney Family Label Pinot Noir - ripe red cherries, redcurrants and very soft tannins


Clayhouse Wines (

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot - very deep colour, cedar and blackcurrant 

2012 Estate Show Pony Petite Syrah - blueberries and blackberries, hint of black pepper and an extremely smooth finish


Sculpterra Winery (

2013 Mega Focus - 47% Grenache, 39% Mourvédre and 14% Syrah - soft, smoky, southern Rhone style

2012 Mourvedre Estate - soft, fruity, long finish

2011 Cabernet Franc – peppery, spicy, exceptional and only $36 a bottle


Niner Wine Estates (

2012 Reserve Twisted Spur - 58% Petit Verdot, 29% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon - fruity Bordeaux blend with good supporting tannins


Copyright of - July 2015

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