If you are a fan of Rhone varietals, a visit to Zaca Mesa Winery will not disappoint. Located outside of Santa Barbara, I recently visited the winery for an extensive tour and tasting. Zaca Mesa is one of the longest tenured Santa Barbara County wineries, first founded in 1973. In front of the winery where some estate vineyards are located, I had a chance to examine the vines of Grenache Blanc, a relatively obscure varietal, typically grown in the Rhone Valley in France. Their education manager, Dane Campbell, showed us the chalky deposits in the soil that gives the grapes a special terroir and flavor.
The expansive tasting room offered some great, limited production wines. The pedigree is there, as some of their more limited production bottlings have received scores of 96 and 95 from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the past. I was particularly impressed with the quality of their Syrah, particularly their reserve bottlings, as well as their Grenache Blanc that is estate grown. Tasting room staff were friendly and knowledgeable -- and you could tell that staff were truly happiest pouring wine at Zaca Mesa. You can find Zaca Mesa wines online or at Total Wines. Many are excellent values at under 30 bucks a bottle. Here are some of the great current releases that I recently tasted at Zaca Mesa Winery, in Santa Barbara County. #zacamesawinery
2012 Zaca Mesa Viognier- Honeysuckle and pear with nutmeg on the nose. Palate has cantaloupe, cut grass, pear and cream. Delicious, drink now. -89
2013 Zaca Mesa Pinot Blanc- Their first vintage of the Pinot Blanc. Pear and starfruit on the nose. Palate has starfruit, pear, and unripe green papaya. Nice minerality. Refreshing, drink now. -90
2012 Zaca Mesa Grenache Blanc- Cantalope, sweet grapefruit and cut grass on the perfumed nose. Palate has cantalopue, red delicious, pear, and a nice cream finish. Drink now. -91
2010 Zaca Mesa Rousanne- Rich nose with butter, clove, and starfruit. Palate has pear, starfruit, golden delicious and a nice vanilla finish. -90
2012 Zaca Mesa Grenache- Nose has rose petals, strawberry, and raspberry.
Fruity wine. Palate has strawberry, guava, and delicious finish with vanilla cream. Drink now. -90
2012 Zaca Mesa Mouvedre- Aged 18 months in French oak. Nose has smoked meats, anise, and raspberry with nutmeg. Palate has smoked meats, raspberry, red cherry, cinnamon and black olive. Drink now. -90
2011 Zaca Mesa 'Z Three'- 54% Grenache, 24% Mouvedre and 24% Grenache. Perfumed nose of blackberry, anise, ripe raspberry and red cherry. Palate has blackberry and raspberry flavors in this forward wine.Drink now. -90
2011 Zaca Mesa 'Chapel G' Syrah- Perfumed nose with blackberry, black cherry and anise. Palate has nice depth with blackberry, black cherry, black olive and raspberry. Nice minerality. Drink now. -90
2011 Zaca Mesa 'Mesa Reserve' Syrah- Smoky nose with red currant, black olive, blackberry and black cherry. Palate has blueberry, blackberry, and dried herbs. Nice minerality. Solid, drink now. -92