I am a full-fledged wine geek; furthermore, I love to learn new knowledge and information. As such, exploring the effects of terroir on wines is super fascinating to me and led me to Babcock Winery in Santa Ynez Valley, at the recommendation of my friend Lori Budd with Dracaena Wines on our last trip to Santa Barbara County. The beautiful French word Terroir as defined by Winefolly is “how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.” Here is a graphic from Winefolly to further illustrate the meaning of terroir:
One of the most educational wine tasting experiences I enjoyed in Valpolicella was at Cantina Valpolicella Negrar where we tasted five Amarones that were identical in grape blend, winemaking technique and process; the only difference was the grapes for each bottle came from the five different valley of Valpolicella. The results were each wine had its own distinct color, aroma, flavor and body. It was a great study in terroir! Much like Cantina Valpolicella Negrar sought to highlight the terroir differences of Valpolicella, Babcock Winery also sought to highlight the terroir differences of Santa Ynez Valley.
In Bryan Babcock’s words:
2012 Top Cream Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills: Grapes from block “Top Cream,” Dijon clones 76, 95 & 96. A lovely golden yellow in the glass; orchard fruit, citrus, crème brulee, with minerality and sandalwood; round acidity that pleasantly lingers on the palate. Delicious. 14.7% alcohol. 94 pts Wine Enthusiast. SRP $45.
2013 The Limit Chardonnay, Radian Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills: Grapes from Radian Vineyard, Block 31, Dijon clone 76. Golden yellow in the glass; stone fruit, orchard fruit, citrus zest; flavors and texture completely different than the Top Cream Chardonnay; elegantly structured with rich, round acidity and a beautiful finish. 15% alcohol. 92 pts Wine Enthusiast. SRP $45.
2013 Slice of Heaven Pinot Noir, Rita’s Crown Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills: Crown Vineyard is the highest AVA in SRH; Grapes from Block 14, Dijon clones 777 and 828. Ruby red in the glass; ripe red berries, vanilla, spice, soft and elegant Pinot Noir; light yet very flavorful; well balanced. 14.6% alcohol. SRP $60.
2012 Ocean’s Ghost Pinot Noir, Estate Grown Sta. Rita Hills: Grapes from Block “Ocean’s Ghost,” Dijon clones 115 and 777; this Pinot Noir was simply lovely; rich red and blue berries, elegant Asian spice, white pepper, minerals and a touch of dry dirt, very smooth and perfectly structured; awesome wine. 15.2% alcohol. 92 pts Grape Legends; 91 pts Wine Advocate. SRP $60.
2012 Appellations Edge Pinot Noir: Radian Vineyards, SRH; Grapes from Block 32, Pommard clone and Block 33, Dijon clone 115; deep ruby with violet highlights in the glass; blackberries, black cherries, soft pepper, spice, touch of minerality; well balanced with a dry, lingering finish; Great wine; 14% alcohol. 93 pts Wine Enthusiast. SRP $60.
These wines represent part of Babcock’s Royal Wine Collection portfolio:
2012 Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc: Soft gold in the glass; light, bright and crisp; stone fruit, tropical fruit, citrus zest, touch of cream, ending with notes of sandalwood; well balanced, easy drinking. 92 pts Wine Enthusiast. SRP $25.
2011 Upper Crust Syrah: Grapes from Rancho Sisquoc, Santa Maria Valley; ripe red and blue berries; cassis, smoke, a touch of cedar and dry dirt; rich yet round in structure with well-balanced acidity and integrated tannins; a beautiful Syrah; 14.2% alcohol. 92 pts Wine Enthusiast. SRP $35.
2012 Block 15 Cabernet Sauvignon: Grapes from the Estate Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley; deep garnet in the glass; black berries, black plums, black cherries, white pepper, jalapeño, herbs, touch of toasted oak; a lighter Cabernet Sauvignon option that is still full of flavor; well balanced with round acidity and integrated tannins; quite excellent; 14.6% alcohol. SRP $35.
2011 Merlot: Grapes from Santa Ynez Valley; ruby in the glass, light, bright, soft red berries, with a touch of spice, not complex yet elegantly crafted, 11.8% alcohol. SRP $15. (Royale Wine Collection)
Although I did not meet Bryan Babcock, next visit I will plan ahead a bit more. I believe he and Clos Pepe winemaker Wes Hagen are cut from the same cloth; iconic and daring renegade wine makers of the Santa Ynez Valley. I would like to give a special shout out to Susan who provided an outstanding tasting experience! Whether you are there the minute the tasting room opens on a Sunday morning (like us) or later on a Saturday afternoon, the Babcock tasting room is a fun, high energy place to be! Fans of Babcock wines are experiencing nirvana as Bryan Babcock explores the phenomenon of terroir in one line of beautifully crafted wines while maintaining a classical crafted line of wines in his Royale Wines. I am so thankful to have experienced both! I strongly encourage you to visit the Babcock Winery web site to learn more about the winery, explore their entire portfolio of wines and order some for yourself today!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with Babcock wines is You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive. I chose this song for several reasons: First, their wines are so good and the portfolio is so extensive my head was spinning by the time our tasting was complete; Second, the tasting room and atmosphere at Babcock is relaxed, funky and cool; Third, they were playing an awesome Pandora station during our tasting with lots of old 80’s alternative songs, though I heard so many great songs (I always know what song is playing in the back ground of my life) this was the one that I heard and knew it was the song for this article!
Get your own bottles of Babcock wines and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!