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Sea Smoke

November 20, 2010

Four years ago Pam and I spent New Years Eve at the Hancock Inn in Hancock, NH, a lovely and rural inn and restaurant that advertises itself as the longest continuously operating inn in the country.  That night, besides having a wonderful and romantic evening, lingering over a delicious dinner across from a roaring fire, our inn-keeper host, Robert Short, introduced us to Sea Smoke Cellars in Santa Barbara, CA, and their wonderful Pinot Noir wines.

Last night when I arrived home from work I found a case of Sea Smoke’s 2008 wines waiting for me; it’s been a long time coming. Shortly after we returned from Hancock, I searched out the Sea Smoke website and added my name to the mailing list, only to be disappointed when I received a response several hours later indicating  that the annual allocation of wines to mailing list members was long sold-out and that it could be years before we would make it to the allocation list. So I bookmarked the website and promptly forgot about the whole thing….. until a couple of months ago when I received another email indicating that after four years I had finally made it to the allocation list and  I should make sure that my contact information was up-to-date. It seems that the recession has had one positive impact, clearing lots of folks off the sold-out allocation lists of various vineyards around the country.

Southing 2008

I think it’s safe to say, I could hardly wait to open the wine and get a taste of what memory told me was a wine for the ages. For someone who enjoys good French Burgundy, it’s hard to imagine that it’s possible to find a great Pinot Noir outside of that illustrious appellation. But I’m here to tell you now that you can. We opened our first bottle from the mixed case, a 2008 Southing, to accompany a simple dinner of fresh lemon dover sole along with steamed Zuccinni. Pam took the first sip and exclaimed “it’s full of caramal!” My first taste was of the insides of cherry pie, with hints of cinnamon and  clove. Over dinner, as the wine opened up, the fruit never diminished but the tannins began to show themselves, giving a long finish and hinting at a wine that will continue to age for years to come.

This wine represents to me what American winegrowers and winemakers are capable of when it comes to Pinot Noir. I have to admit that I’ve never tasted a Burgundy that comes close to this particular taste, so it’s not fair to to really compare say a 2001  Georges Compte de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny Burgundy with SeaSmoke Southing 2008; each has its place. But it’s clear, great American Pinot Noir has arrived.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jon permalink
    November 21, 2010 8:52 am

    Where did you find the photo for your title block?!? It’s just phenomenal, and so fitting for the most recent post.

    I thought you’d be happy to know that tonight marked yet another meeting of the Seattle Steak Club for Men. Once again, the west coast chapter proved that great steak can and should be cooked, not surface charred, though the wine wasn’t quite up to snuff with “the cellar.” There’s only so much one can do with a $20 a head budget and Trader Joe’s.

    I’ll look forward to future posts, and hopefully, a chance to partake in some Sea Smoke with you and the rest of the family in the near future.

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