santa maria

Center of Effort Tasting with Nathan Carlson

After enjoying Center of Effort wines a few times, we decided to schedule a tasting with winemaker Nathan Carlson, who has been making wine in the area for many years. Center of Effort is located in the beautiful Edna Valley. If you’ve never visited the Edna Valley before, we highly recommend it! It’s a laid-back hidden gem just east of San Luis Obispo with rolling hills and a small number of wineries throughout. After many years of operating in a small facility, the COE facility is undergoing major reconstruction and the new tasting room and hospitality center look to be amazing. In the meantime, we met Nathan to taste wines where the action is (which we like) – the warehouse where we saw many barrels and also those concrete “egg-like” vessels which are becoming popular.

Per Nathan, the “Center of Effort” wines are created from the best locations, blocks, and lots in the vineyard. To expand their line, COE has recently launched another label titled, “Effort” which are also excellent wines but at a lower price point. Stylistically, Effort wines exhibit a more approachable, fruit-forward style, bringing diversity and dimension to our portfolio. We started our tasting with a 2017 beautiful light peach colored dry rose’ of Pinot Noir followed by:

2016 Effort Chardonnay: Notes of citrus and nice minerality with bright acidity. Fermented by native yeast and aged in new French oak barrels. A great deal for $24/bottle. We took a bottle of this home.

2014 Center of Effort Chardonnay: A refreshing mineral note joins with notes of pineapple and guava. Fermented in 30% new French Oak, concrete, and acacia wood vessels. Interesting things to note: acacia wood barrels – never heard of this before! Does add an interesting flavor.

2016 Effort Pinot Noir: Per Nathan, this wine uses the best of COE’s blocks and barrels. A recent review by Matt Ketterman, Wine Enthusiast, described the wine as having baked black cherry, vanilla, raspberry, rose petals and a touch of licorice light up the nose. The lightly poised but intensely focused sip reveals a wild combo of fruit and spice, with sage, bay leaf, thyme and fennel laced through black cherry. It’s like walking through the Central Coast scrubland. We took a bottle of this home with us. It’s a great deal for $27.

2013 Center of Effort Pinot Noir: This wine includes 15% whole clusters per Nathan. For more info on “whole cluster fermentation” click here for a Wine Spectator article. Tasting notes from Nathan have this wine showcasing a classic Pinot Noir nose of orange peel and Montmorency cherries, this wine expresses the land in which our vineyard lies. The palate is mid-weight with ripe plum, cocoa dust, and a balancing freshness. Earthy notes of new leather and faint campfire lead to a lengthy finish.

Nathan is a very down-to-earth winemaker who made the tasting experience comfortable and informative. He is also working on bringing some Rhone varietals to the COE portfolio.Other great wineries to try in the Edna Valley include Kynsi (fantastic Pinot Noir), Chamisal – beautiful scenery. Talley has a beautiful estate with a grassy area for groups and kids, and an outdoor tasting area, in addition to a farmer’s market.

It’s Stormy in the Santa Maria Valley…

STORM WINES

As we search for special wines to bring to our club members, we ran into Ernst Storm and his family at a Los Olivos community function.  We struck up a conversation and arranged for a visit to his winemaking facility near Presqu’ile Winery to learn more about Storm Wines.  Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by his boxer, Jake, who we’re told also has a passion for wine.  Ernst was kind enough to spend time with us tasting through a number of wines.  What struck me is, as with many other winemakers in the Santa Ynez Valley, his authentic style, both personally and in his winemaking.  There is no BS here…the focus is on selecting great vineyards, guiding the process, and letting the grapes shine.  Of course, his Sauvignon Blanc is well-known and a favorite in the area, with refreshing citrus and acidity.  We also had the opportunity to taste the very limited production Grenache Rose’, an excellent dry wine from Demetria vineyard, and a series of excellent Pinot Noirs:  the SBC Pinot, The Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot, the John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot, and my personal favorite, the Duvarita Pinot, made with three Dijon clones.  Duvarita is a small, family-run vineyard in Lompoc off La Purisma Road, known for biodynamic farming practices.  The balance of fruit with earthy undertones was excellent.  We finished with the Slide Hill cool-climate Syrah from Edna Valley, which is owned by the same folks as the Duvarita Vineyard.  We’re really enjoying the cool climate Syrahs that we’re seeing in the area, such as this one, which was very well-balanced with dark fruit, dried herbs, and pepper.

We look forward to featuring Storm Wines in an upcoming Club shipment soon! For more information, please see www.stormwines.com