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MAY 2007 – Beckmen Futures Tasting
Purisma Mountain Vineyard, Santa Ynez, CA

beckmentasting.jpgOne of the first clubs I joined because I just had to. One of the best Rhone producers in the Santa Ynez valley, i.e. Santa Barbara wine country, which is more well known for their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay than their Syrahs and Grenaches. However, Steve Beckmen is changing that. This year in an effort to both thank their club members and entice them to buy more, they had a special tasting out in the Purisma Vineyard, their high-end property, to taste future releases. It was technically free, however, I don't know anyone who left without happily plunking down their credit card. After all, you got to taste 10 of their best wines and get them at an additional discount. No more surprises in the shipment. You get what you paid for and man was it good.

2005 Beckmen Sauvignon Blanc, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2006 Beckmen Grenache Rose, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2006 Beckmen Grenache, Whole Cluster
2006 Beckmen Grenache, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2006 Beckmen Syrah/Viognier
2006 Beckmen Syrah Clone #1, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2005 Beckmen Cabernet Sauvignon, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2005 Beckmen Syrah, Block Six Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2005 Beckmen Purisima
2005 Beckmen Syrah, Barrel Select
2005 Beckmen Grenache, Purisima Mountain Vineyard
2005 Beckmen Syrah, Purisima Mountain Vineyard

03_pmv_cab_sauv.jpgThe fact that it was being poured from plastic pitchers and 5-gallon water jugs did not deter from the experience. We were in the middle of a vineyard and most of the wines were still in the barrel. Not a convenient thing to carry around. The standouts for us were the Whole Cluster Grenache (an elegant, floral, ripe confection), the PMV Cabernet Sauvignon (see tasting notes), the Block Six and Clone #1 Syrahs, which are dark, concentrated and filled with ripe fruit. Though Beckmen makes big, bold wines, there's plenty of structure and balance, too. The PMV wines need a lot of time in the bottle to show their true flavors, but they are more than worth the wait.

With a nice buzz, we decided to keep the day going and stopped in Los Olivos for some more wine. Went to Carhartt Vineyards roadside shack and had a seat out back on the patio. Only about 4 people can stand inside at the bar. It was a nice place to decompress and chat about the day. The owners are fun and friendly, however, their wines didn't knock our socks off. Could have been them, could have been the fact that we just came from drinking really, outstanding stuff. Most definitely had a little palate fatigue. Will have to stop in again to determine the truth.

cold-spring-tavern.jpgNeeding to sober up a bit before the drive back to Los Angeles, we decided to grab a bite to eat. One of our compatriots suggested the Cold Spring Tavern, which we never heard of, but was off Hwy. 154 on the way back to Santa Barbara. When I say off, I mean way back in the valley under the bridge on a road I couldn't find again without the help of TomTom. It was one of the area's original stage coach stops established in 1876 (still looks like it) and currently operates as a restaurant and bar that features live music. It's a big favorite with the biker crowd, so dressing up is not required. Though reservations are. We called and were told that if we could get there by 5pm they could seat us, otherwise we could forget it. Thankfully, we made it and had a very tasty dinner in an already packed and raucous dining room. The atmosphere and the ribs made the experience worthwhile. If you're looking for an elegant, quiet meal, this is not the place for you.

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