Faded Seaside Glamour: the Delays and Santa Rita Hills

bridlingtonbeachWEVThe Delays are a UK Band that debuted a remarkably lovely set of songs in 2004. The singer Greg Gilbert can make his falsetto voice sound like Michelle Philips crossed with Stevie Nicks. The songs are lushly textured with guitars, keyboards and tambourines. Sometimes they are the Byrds in 1964. The band named their debut set of songs Faded Seaside Glamour. The music conjures images of notable British seaside resorts that pop up in movies like the Witches. What does this all this pop music have to do with Santa Rita Hills wine country?

delays-01-bigWEBSRH is old enough now to have its own sense of faded seaside glamour. Dotoré and tBoW “discovered” the region in 2003 attending the Santa Barbara Wine Futures show which was the invention of Doug Marjerum and was held adjacent to his original and trend-setting restaurant The Wine Cask. These are good memories. The first wines we bought were all Pinot Noir: Drew, Kenneth-Crawford, Foxen, Clos Pepe and a bottle of Babcock Cargassachi Vineyard made by the K-C guys. We met Paul Lato and bought his wine when he was in the corner of the back room next to where the waiters came and went with more mussels and shrimp for the lumpen. While the crowd was six deep at Seaside we were all by ourselves with the only winemaker able to bring in a Pinot Noir from regional grapes under 14%. A few years later we realized he (along with Jim Clendenen) was the only one WILLING to produce low alcohol wines in SRH.

The bloom came off the rose shortly after the film Sideways put Buellton, Los Olivos and the Hitching Post on the map. Miles – played by Paul Giamatti in his breakout role – ranted on despicable Merlot and raved on magical Pinot Noir. Molly and Jason Drew moved to the Anderson Valley (where was that?). The Kenneth-Crawford team went separate ways. Kris Curren left Seasmoke and Foley set up shop like a dormant volcano that someday just has to blow it all up. The Delays have made three CD song sets since 2004. Wines from SRH are still highly desirable. tBoW just put in for two of the most recent Delays CDs but he did open a couple of wines made by SRH premium winemakers recently… along with a couple other wines. Here are the reports from the transverse oceanside valley known as Santa Rita Hills that may have lost just a touch of glamour in the past half decade.

lato06WEB2006 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir $xx: The first two vintages made by Paul Lato using Santa Maria fruit were both under 14%. They were not simply remarkable they were exceptional. By the 2004 vintage Paul had stopped making delicate feminine Pinto Noir. He remains a talented winemaker but his wines are no longer femmy like gossamer. This is young at seven years, plenty of alcohol on the nose. Color is deep red. Medium wight Fruit is rich and ripe, big. Fruity. Somewhere in that thicket of fruit is a core of tender sap. 14.7%

curran06syrahWEB2006 Curran Syrah Black Oak Vineyard $xx: Kris Curran is arguably the most heralded winemaker from SRH. She was raised in Santa Barbara and spent most of her life around Santa Ynez. She is local as one can get. Kris was the original winemaker for the region’s breakout “collectible” label, Seasmoke. Doug Marjerum signed up a tiger when he signed Seasmoke. The prospect of tasting the Wine Spectator darling wine was enough to pack the table which always had a prime spot in a corner of the main hall. The prospect of buying a case or two at 25% off was enough to guarantee that wine sold out within the first hour of a two day event. Kris makes lush juicy wines. These are the wines she loves. These are the wines she knows. She does not travel to other wine making regions. She rarely drinks wines other than the jammy wines from the region. She is the purest of purists. This wine is fruity but not forward. She keeps it balanced and fruity. After 30 minutes a bit of veggie and bricquets emerges. Weight is medium, red ruby after seven years. Her wines are not terroir driven with a neutral winemaker. She makes a “style” of wine. Paul must like her style because his style – post 2003 – is very similar. This wine has lots of legs. I have never tasted an “aged” Curran wine. 14.6%

chermettebeauj07WEB2007 Pierre Chermette Beaujlais $15: This is the entry level wine from a seminal producer in “The Beauj.” tBoW has left in his cellar at least a year too long. The color is brick red. The nose is dusty, earthy with red veggie fruits that have just a bit of sweetness: beets, rhubarb. “Roasted blackberry, red wine vinegar” say the Young Uns. This wine at this age, over-the-hill-but-still-walking, defines the difference between Old and New World. Later the YUs give me some “hickory flavors, BBQ and parsnip. Sour.” They keep it coming now that they are on a second taste. “Golden beets, non-pickled beets.” For tBoW this wine is alike a lavendar sashay Gramma might have kept in her den. U20 delight. 13%

vista_corte_b05WEB2005 Vistalba Corte B $25: No fading glamour in Mendoza, Argentina’s powerhouse wine region. This producer is a bit under the radar although it is well known in Argentina. If this were Bordeaux is would be Pichon Lalande. If it were Napa it would be Spotswoode. We like Malbec especially with beef of the grill. Should you have the good fortune to visit an Argentine restaurant in Buenos Aires or Mendoza do not bother looking for the fish or chicken entrees or a lightweight red to go with either. Malbec with enough fruit to sweeten the glass and plenty of stuffing to satisfy the most macho bolero is the perfect wine for beef. This wine is very flavorful after 8 years in the bottle. We found it on a sale rack at one of our “underground” stores. Remember the label. It is around town. 14.5%

Here are the Delays singing Wanderlust. The girl is NOT singing.

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