This week we will be visiting miles of coastline, sunny hills and relaxing wineries of the Central Coast Wine Country - introducing our latest American wine arrivals.
Too often forgotten or dismissed as ‘flyover’ between San Francisco and LA, this fairytale stretch of California coast is packed with wild beaches, misty redwood forests where hot springs hide, and rolling golden hills of fertile vineyards and farm fields. Top vintners have transformed the Central Coast into one of the state’s premier wine regions. Santa Barbara in the south is dubbed the 'Pinot Noir paradise', as coastal fog filters through the east-west oriented Santa Ynez Valley to create one of the state’s most diverse wine growing regions. Some 42 varietals reflect the rich diversity of growing conditions here.
Jackhammer is a partnership between Stephen Dooley and Sandy Garber. They have been friends and business associates since they met at Chalone Wine Group in 1987. They have collaborated on many projects over the years. Sitting together in the fall of 2011 sipping on glasses of Central Coast Pinot Noir, they hatched the idea for Jackhammer Wine Company. They realized that there just wasn't enough good, inexpensive Pinot Noir available -at least, not that actually tasted like Pinot Noir. And so the project began. With all family members intimately involved, from financial management to label design - everything is done in house by the family team.
While Pinot Noir and Chardonnay continue to enjoy massive success in the premium segment of Californian wine, the efforts at the more affordable end of the spectrum have tended towards the ripe and simple. What Jackhammer planned to do was to create a brand that specialised in sensitively farmed and vinified Central Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, that was elegant and varietally pure. The result is Jackhammer, a set of wines that combines stellar value for money with the balance and complexity that is so often lacking.
Their Chardonnay is unoaked, sourced from cool climate sites, vinified and aged in stainless steel tank and the result is crisp wine full of steely minerality. Pear, apple, and citrus flavours with nice acidity gives a mouth-watering finish. Drink this while it’s young and lively.
And if you are cooking food then try a nice bit of grilled cod; delicious!
Their Pinot Noir comes from fruit grown in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and is aged for 11 months in used French oak barrels, to give a wine that is silky and supple with crunchy red berry fruit. Succulent with earthy, savoury notes and long, smoky finish.
It's beautiful now but also could drink over the next few years.
Lompoc Wine Company source grapes from their neighbouring vineyards across the Santa Rita Hills. This wine is produced by the dream team behind Domaine de la Cote and Sandhi Wines. As a 'bought-in fruit wine' it's far less expensive than many of their other wines, it is outstanding value.
The Pinot Noir has got a superb concentration with red and black cherry flavours and savoury tinge. Lovely long, complex finish. Delicious to drink on release but certainly good enough to improve over 5+ years. Try it with game or roast meats.
Now is the perfect time to try some great outstanding value Californian wines.