Friday, May 27, 2011

Southern San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo / Edna Valley / Arroyo Grande can be lumped together as great Pinot Country. Not just Pinot Noir, but also Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio. (Note that Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same varietal the former is the Italian name and the latter is French.) There are also tasty Syrahs and other Rhone varietals and everyone should know Edna Valley Chardonnay by now; I see that stuff everywhere. There are also some fantastically floral Austrian-style dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers at Claiborne and Churchill Winery.

Laetitia is one of the largest vineyards in the area and they make a portion of their grapes into wonderful wines. Most of the wineries in the area source at least a portion of their grapes from Laetitia. They are most noted for their Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines, but they also make a bunch of other varietals on four labels.

If you go to Laetitia in the early fall you can see their Coquard press in action, it is an old school wooden basket press used for crushing grapes to make sparkling wine. They also have picnic tables and a bocce ball court, so if this is your last winery of the day that be a good idea before you head out on the highway.

My favorite of their sparkling wines is the Cuvee M and for their Pinots I love them all, but if I had to choose I'd go for Les Galet which comes from one of their primo blocks. The estate Pinot Noir is also quite good if you like the fruit forward style and about half the price.

Another powerhouse of Pinot Noir was Domaine Alfred which has an elegant clean silky style. I say "was" because they changed hands a couple years ago and now go by Chamisal Vineyards. I hope they haven't lost their style, but I haven't tasted their wine yet. They also had a wonderful crisp dry rosē.

Kelsey See Canyon is an interesting experience as they have peacocks and an apple orchard. On their website they also make wine that they ferment with apple juice. I've never had it, but it sounds like it could be interesting. Their winery would never cut it in Napa Valley where architecture is perceived to relate to quality. However it showcases the funky farmyard style (visually not flavor-wise) that you can still get away with in the Central Coast.

This is Part 3 of a series.
Part 1 is An Introduction to San Luis Obispo County
Part 2 is Paso Robles Wineries 

Update:  Chamisal Vineyards has the same winemaker, wine style, most of the staff, and vineyard as Domaine Alfred.  They now have a better tasting room, hopefully one with windows as the old one did not have any windows.

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