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Thursday's Bottle

"Thursday's Bottle" reunites for session of festive sparkling wines

"Thursday's Bottle" reunites for session of festive sparkling wines


Welcome back to the second “Thursday’s Bottle,” an occasional adventure in blind tastings and wine reviews. The Thursday's Bottle series debuted in October of last year when the “panel” tasted three grenaches. Read that story here

As I noted with the grenache review, we’re a small group of food and wine geeks as serious as serious can be. We taste, talk and take notes. At the end of the evening, I double check that I can decipher all the notes, and then turn everyone’s thoughts into a story.

On Dec. 20, five of us gathered once again, this time to taste three sparkling wines. Before we tasted, I, as host, divulged only that one bottle was from Santa Barbara County and two were “Europe.”

The players: Katie Baillargeon and Marcel Rivera-Baillargeon, UCSB creative writing professor and online marketing specialist, respectively; Angela Soleno, winemaker/owner, Turiya Wines; Jeremy Smith, course director at Marshallia Ranch Golf Course, and myself.

Bottle One: “Smells light, with subtle fruit; fruity mid-palate; nice acid; not chardonnay; maybe the local one; creamy; opaque; acidic; green; light bubbles; lack of fruit on the first taste; light green on the second taste; light green apple on the nose; limestone; medium bubbles; heavy bubbles on mouth feel; not French; unbalanced; not the local bottle; light on the aromatics; sweet on mid-palate; hard to get anything on the nose; ocean, salty, saline; apricot and bread/yeast; mouth fizzles out; kind of disappointing; steely green limes.”

Bottle Two: “More carbonic than bottle one; meaty, color-rich; bigger; more substance on own; honey, fruity, hay; cotton candy, vanilla; smells like a love story; soft and lovely, gentle; we’re getting married and serving this at the reception; muted smell; like more than bottle one, and reminds me of rosé wine; like aftertaste/finish; smooth; fruit-forward; local; berry on the nose; balanced and sweet; honey; more residual sugar; France or mainland; nicely balanced; hay.”

Bottle Three: “Apple-y; nice and fruity; acidic, but like a middle range between bottles one and two; light bubbles, my favorite of three; Alsace; lighter color; long finish; this is local; the most balanced of the three; sweet but acidic finish; light nose; green apple taste; smells like California; fruity and sweet; makes me want to put it in my mouth; lemon zest; it’s great, but not amazing.”

The wines:

Bottle One: Mosby Wines Stelline di Cortese, estate, NV, $20. (Stelline di Cortese translates to “Little Stars of Cortese”).

Bottle Two: Heitlinger 2009 Blanc de Noirs, Germany, $33 (Distributed by Wine Wise, the Vienna Wine Co.)

Bottle Three: Karanika NV Xinomavro Brut Cuvée Spéciale, Greece, $33 (Also distributed by Wine Wise).

I discovered both the Karanika and Heitlinger during a tasting Dec. 10 at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant. The focus that evening was on sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines, and you can read the story I wrote for here

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for








Former "Tasting Panel" returns as "Thursday's Bottle"

Former "Tasting Panel" returns as "Thursday's Bottle"


Here’s the deal: Ya’ll know I’m not up to consuming an entire bottle of wine every Thursday, so the blog feature I debuted as “Thursday’s Bottle” fell into the weeds pretty quickly after its launch earlier this year. Much later, in a rare moment of genius, I thought: Why not marry “Thursday” with another former attraction: The CCWP “Tasting Panel”? I pulled the plug on the latter in mid-2013 after I decided it had grown too, well, “chatty.”

So once again, with little to no fanfare (considering my track record on longevity), welcome back to “Thursday’s Bottle.”

The rules? There are none. Let’s keep it simple:

When I stumble across a single bottle of wine so spectacular that deserves its own spotlight, that wine can stand alone as “Thursday’s Bottle.”

Otherwise, a consistent group of food and wine geeks as serious as serious can be will gather around a table, sip wine, talk and take notes. At evening’s end, I’ll gather all the notes and turn them into a story. Deal? Good.

I’ll always name the “tasters” and will never exclude a comment, but so that each of us can remain candid, I’ll never divulge who said what.

Oh, wait — there is one rule: We taste blind. No exceptions.

Four of us tasted grenache at my house on Friday, Sept. 19, which was International Grenache Day. Coincidence? Think again.

The players: Katie Baillargeon and Marcel Rivera-Baillargeon, UCSB creative writing professor and online marketing specialist, respectively; Angela Soleno, winemaker/owner, Turiya Wines; and myself.

The bottles: Three grenaches, all Santa Ynez Valley, two vineyard designates.

What we wrote:

Bottle One: “Weird nose; dust; barrel; medium body; long finish; good tannin structure; mid-range; soft; burnt match, smoky; cannot get past the smoke; cotton candy; burns going down; mild fruit; think it’s corked; long finish; mildly corked; bright color; long finish; would like this if it wasn’t corked.”

Bottle Two: “More fruit; wow; bigger, more elegant; black; yummy; lots of mid-palate spice; an elegant expression of Grenache; big and jammy; fruit forward; clay; cola; spice.

Bottle Three: “Tighter; sweeter; more oak; better with food — not a sipping wine; like a teenager, needs to be aged longer; has some SO2; thicker.”

Bottle one — 2010 Sillix Wines Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley My first encounter with winemaker Blake Sillix was earlier this year at Solvang’s Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure, and his syrah and grenache were stellar. To have this bottle be corked was beyond disappointing.

Bottle two — 2010 Samsara Wines Grenache, Larner Vineyard

Bottle three — 2011 Jalama Wines Grenache, La Presa Vineyard

Thursday's Bottle Redux, starring Sillix, Samsara and Jalama grenaches

Copyright Central Coast Wine Press for







Thursday's Bottle returns with Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post "Pinks"

Thursday's Bottle returns with Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post "Pinks"


  It’s been months since I posted a wine for the weekly “Thursday’s Bottle.” I have no excuse — especially since I still drink a lot of wine, even on Thursdays.

Tonight, to honor the hundreds of writers descending on Buellton for the annual Wine Bloggers Conference, and because it’s a lovely warm summer evening, I offer up a rosé.

Pretty in pink is Pinks, by the gentlemen behind Hartley Ostini Wines, Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini

Those of you who follow my writing know that I just switched my “Wine Country” column from the local newspapers to My first column, July 2, focused on 11 locally produced rosés.

I inadvertently overlooked this one, and I’m here tonight to tell you that it ranks right up with my favorites noted in the Noozhawk column.

The rosé is the 2013 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post “Pinks,” a luscious blend of grenache, pinot noir and valdiguie. It smacks of fresh, juicy pink grapefruit with an undertone of ripe strawberries.

I’m told it retails for $15 — what a steal!

Case production: Update! The always gracious and bubbly Gray Hartley said tonight that the 2013 Pinks includes 2,400 cases. The wine is available in retail outlets, at the restaurants or online:



Thursday's Bottle: The sky's the Limit

How could I resist that headline? 2010 No Limits Syrah, "The Nuts," Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley

I was warned by one of the owners of this label that it is a "big" wine, and to let it breathe over several days. So I did: And . . . it's a big wine.

I opened it and tried it on a Friday, skipped it on Saturday, and then had the remainder of the bottle Sunday.

My notes, first day: "A 'forever' finish with monster tannins. Begs for rich and creamy pasta, stew or soup. Or dark chocolate."

By Sunday: "Shows more fruit by today and the white pepper typical to syrah … and, the Edna Valley is cool, after all. It's a bowl of dark spice. But still a bit one dimensional — I would like to see more layers, and a hint of fruit. Just a smidge of blackberry on finish."

After I drained the bottle, I continued to dwell on the dark notes of this No Limits' "The Nuts." (Think: Vegas, baby). Yes, I couldn't discern more than the slightest hint of blackberry, the characteristic I so love in a good syrah.

And then it came to me: The Nuts is the Dark Knight, the darkest of the nights of winter. It's a wine that sets one to brooding — never a bad thing in moderation, I dare say.

14.4 alcohol. Retail: $75. Ethan Lindquist is the winemaker of No Limits, and his cohorts are Cliff Korn and Lee Tomkow, both of whom handle marketing.

No tasting room; online sales and by-appointment tastings at

Thursday's Bottle

Thursday's Bottle


2010 Joseph Blair Cabernet Sauvignon, El Camino Real (Saarloos & Sons' Vineyard), Santa Ynez Valley True story: I fell hard for red wine in the early mid 1980s. The scoundrel: cabernet sauvignon. This hearty Bordeaux grape varietal is all I drank. For months. I'm quite sure I'd never even heard of pinot noir, much less syrah and its Rhone cousins.

This Joseph Blair cabernet sauvignon, the second label crafted by Mark Cargasacchi (Jalama Wines), takes me back almost 25 years to autumn days in a cooler, rain-laden climate, to suppers around a fireplace followed by light desserts of aged cheddar and dark chocolate.

A stand-up cabernet, the first from Mark Cargasacchi, and the second label to his Jalama Wines

This cab displays a ruddy ruby color and a fresh cherry and tobacco nose. It's tight on the palate with mouth-watering tannins — yet wonderfully drinkable now. True to its heritage of red fruit, with a smack of herbs and spice. Very focused. I split a bottle over two nights and then pawed through my cellar for another before realizing I'd given away my second bottle to a friend. Damn.

Hearty yet elegant, this Joseph Blair cabernet paired exquisitely with spicy turkey chili.

Joseph Blair, Lompoc Wine Ghetto (temporarily at Jalama Wines, 308 North 9th St., Unit C); 100 cases produced; retail: $40. and

Thursday's Bottle: Notes from our expat, Phil Carpenter

Thursday's Bottle: Notes from our expat, Phil Carpenter


Editor's Note: While I was digging in my cellar, looking for a candidate for "Thursday's Bottle," Phil Carpenter whipped up a new review of yet another of his recent discoveries. Go Phil! Montagny 1er Cru 'Les Millières' 2009 Cave des Vignerons de Buxy

Found this 1er at the local wine shop. It's quite the nice bang for the buck — er, I mean pound. Got it for L10 (approximately $15 US), brought it home, and put it in the fridge.

This wine is made by a co-op named Cave des Vignerons de Buxy.

Who wouldn't love this beauty?

Located in Cote Chalonnaise, this co-op has been around for more than 80 years, and includes 270 members, or 120 families.  The co-op carried out everything from vineyard care to running its bottling line.

I had some difficulty finding more information about the vineyard, Les Millières. But its location is Montagny, on the southern part of Cote Chalonnaise.

Tasting notes: Crisp apple, honeycomb, hazelnut, pear, white flowers and perfume. It's crisp on mid-palate, but has a nice roundness to the finish. Consistent palate, but with some ripe pineapple to go with wet stones as the finish nears. Very nice little white.

The wine shop stated this wine was aged completely in stainless steel, but I swear I got some sweet oak on the nose and finish …

(Editor, again: Read Phil's first wine adventure for "Thursday's Bottle," published here on Oct. 17)



Thursday's Bottle

So I fell behind with a post. Again. I did drink a wine, however, and on Thursday. This week, Thursday was Halloween.

The backstory: About a year ago I ventured to the Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa, where a friend and I each ordered a glass of wine. She had bubbles; I had a mourvèdre. I so enjoyed the wine that I bought two bottles.

The wine: 2009 Graff Family Vineyards Mourvèdre, Chalone (Monterey County).

Thursday three of us paired the bottle with spicy turkey chili crafted by one of us, aka the Amazing Stephanie. The chili was de-lish and the wine was extraordinary.

The mourvèdre was elegant but had enough backbone to stand tall against the spice and acid of the chili. It showed more fig than prune, and more dust and light spice than mesquite. Hint of bacon.

Love mourvèdre? If you find a stash of 2009 (unlikely, but possible), open your wallet and pony up for this beauty.

Consensus: "Love this wine!"

Alcohol: 15.6. Retail: $24 (Bounty Hunter)

From the back of the bottle: "A portion of the profits from the sale of this wine benefits the Richard H. Graff Scholarship Fund for wine and food education."

Thursday's Bottle meets Friday (again)

This week, Thursday's Bottle left the cozy red couch at home and shared a bottle of wine with friends at Succulent Cafe in Solvang. The bottle: the 2012 Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc by Doug Margerum, Margerum Wine Company. Sybarite (SIB-bar-right) describes one who is fond of pleasure and luxury.

The grapes come from four vineyards: McGinley, Curtis, Grassini and Star Lane — all but Curtis are in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA, known for its sauvignon blanc.

The wine dazzled me with bold, refreshing lime and a complex finish, and paired perfectly with spicy scallops.

I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.

Retail: $21, at


Thursday's Bottle: With an invitee

Here's what to look for next time you're in Phil's hood Welcome to a special edition of Thursday's Bottle! This week, a dual tasting: One bottle from Lompoc, and one shared by special guest Phil Carpenter from across the pond.

For those of you not lucky enough to know Carpenter, he recently relocated to Summertown, a suburb of Oxford, England, with his lovely wife, Rachel, and their darling daughter, Anna.

While those of us left behind miss the Carpenters, most of us "chat" with Phil throughout the day, thanks to Facebook. Phil's own blog is Santa Barbara Wine Talk,

He and Rachel have relished tasting many of the "local" wines that line the shelves at neighborhood shops. Face it: We have the Central Coast; Phil and Rachel have France. Next door.

This week: Phil tasted a 2012 Leon Perdigal Côtes du Rhône, and I sipped a 2008 "L'Ange Rogue" from McPrice Myers (grenache, Santa Barbara County).

In Phil's words: "While I was perusing the aisles, this bottle popped out to me … expert marketing, if you ask me: The right glisten off the label on a beautiful Summertown afternoon.

"I've always LOVED CdRs due to their "Bang for the Buck" potential.  Swooped this into the cart ASAP.

"I wish I could tell you more about the esteemed Leon Perdigal.  I'm sure our Somm friends could dispatch more info about the gentleman. After reading the back of the label, I fully expected to get rather "geeky" with this wine.  Sadly, I couldn't find too much info.

"Perdigal is a famed cellar master. Making his name at Ogier, which has been around since 1859, Perdigal was its first celler master, and established quite a legacy. Ogier is the largest cellar in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with the ability to make large amounts of wines under one roof.

"Upon initial pop, this wine was full of smoke, black pepper and licorice. After I let it breathe for a bit (two hours), out came ripe cherry and raspberry, underbrush and savory herbs.

"The initial impression was very disjointed, but it leveled out a bit. Still a solid acid streak going, but a real bramble, dark blue fruit on the end of mid, going to finish. A rather ripe CdP, and I was not expecting that.

"Look, I understand the disjointed effect is probably due to this bad boy being freshly bottled. On potential, I don't know where it will go. As I mentioned, the wine has some acid, but it's pretty ripe off the bat.  All and all, not bad for L7 ($11.32 U.S.), and as a candidate for a "daily drinker" wine.

My turn: Friends gifted me this bottle for feeding their cat. I have great friends. I opened this Tuesday, and let it breathe for, oh, about 10 minutes. And then I took a sip.

I wrote: "Lovely" — but it deserves stronger. Try: "Exquisite." What a stunning wine! Smoky dark cherry with a finish that lasted a full minute. Great weight in the mouth. I'm literally drooling as I write this, remembering the dusky spice, and sheer power. A better pairing would have been pulled pork or a turkey burger, but on my plate was … a tuna salad. The fish mellowed out the wine, but still. Wow. More, please.

The second night, the wine was much more subtle, but still displayed cherry and blackberry with light smoke.

Retail: About $30. Santa Barbara County,

Who else wants to have Phil be a regular contributor to "Thursday's Bottle?" Can I have a show of hands, please?

Thursday's Bottle

It's still Thursday ... at least for another hour! 2007 Mistura Noceto 180 Degree Selection

For this week's selection, I dug deep in my cellar for "Thursday's Bottle." This week has been one of the busiest in recent memory, but I've met deadlines, helped a good friend harvest grapes and savored another fall's cooler temperatures and a light rain.

Tonight I celebrated finishing a writing project with a glass or two of a rustic wine, Mistura from Vino Noceto in Amador County. I visited this winery almost two years ago on my way to a family Thanksgiving.

As I hoped, this stick-to-your-tongue tannic, "dusky" red embodies the flavors of fall. Think roasted vegetables with a side of mashed potatoes and thick butternut squash soup with a hint of white pepper and cumin.

That was the pairing I envisioned; in my world, I microwaved leftover quinoa and topped it with mushrooms sautéed in butter. And it was heaven.

This 2007 red table wine is hearty and aptly named. "We call it 180 Degrees because it's different than any other wine we produce," according to notes from winemaker Rusty Folena on Vino Noceto's website,

While the 2007 has no doubt sold out and fallen off the website, notes on the 2008 state: "This is a blend of the Portuguese varietals in our Almirante port-style wine: Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Amerela, plus Alicante Bouschet, Tempranillo, Syrah and Petite Sirah."

This wine prompted me to craft a "Thursday's Bottle" acronym: MPWF, or Must Pair With Food. This wine is big and spicy and bold. Needs food.

Retail: About $23, but likely sold out., Amador County Red Table Wine.



Thursday's Bottle Takes Week Off

My weekly "Thursday's Bottle" is taking a one-week break so its author can stay focused on another project's looming deadline. Yes, it's one of those weeks, and I'm all about Gary Larson of the Far Side: "Objects in your (side view) mirror are closer than they appear." See you Oct. 10 with a fresh review.

Thursday's Bottle

2010 Axis Mundi Grenache/Syrah Axis Mundi is the center of the world, and in mythology, the connection between Heaven and Earth.

While until today I wasn't sure of the Axis Mundi definition, I am familiar with this particular wine — although it's been a while since I've enjoyed it.

If anyone would name a label Axis Mundi, it would be Wes Hagen, the erudite viticulturist and winemaker behind Clos Pepe Estates. Axis is his second label.

This bright Rhone blend is 67 percent grenache and 33 percent syrah from Windmill Vineyards on Ballard Canyon Road in the brand new Ballard Canyon Road American Viticultural Area, a sub-appellation of the greater Santa Ynez Valley AVA.

Hagen keeps this blend a vivid expression of the typical grenache — full of just-ripe strawberry with the slightest hint of cherry smoked tobacco and spice.

This wine is light in color, but full of flavor. I sipped it just last night with a spicy tortilla soup and it proudly held its own. It's definitely a food-friendly wine.

Released February 2012. Retail: $29. Neither Clos Pepe or Axis Mundi has a tasting room, but the wines are available online at and can be found at Taste of the Sta. Rita Hills in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto

Thursday's Bottle: It's still Thursday!

2012 Roark Wine Company Chenin Blanc I met Ryan Roark about three years ago at a party hosted by mutual friends. We struck up a conversation about wine, and I learned that Roark, despite his youthful appearance, already had several vintages under his belt, both locally and in New Zealand.

He is a winemaker who has learned from the ground up: Having worked for other small producers, Roark has jumped head first into every step required of good winemaking, including time and experience in vineyards and the hard work of cellars.

After we met, a couple of years passed, but early this year at the Solvang Garagiste event I found Roark pouring three of his latest vintages: Chenin blanc, cabernet franc and a grenache syrah blend. Friends and I compared notes after the event, and all of us agreed that Roark's wines were stand outs in the crowd.

Fast forward to this week, when two friends and I grabbed salads at the Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant. We ordered a bottle of Roark's 2012 Chenin Blanc, which paired perfectly with our various salads.

The wine, released in March of this year, is young but not overly so, with a firm finish and lots of honeysuckle and mouth-puckering fresh citrus along the palate.

Tonight I paired it with mahi mahi steamed with lemon, which heightened the crisp backbone of the wine and drew out its tartness. Try it by itself or with hard cheeses, or a moderately spiced grilled fish or sushi.

Contact Ryan at for by-appointment tastings.

Website: and Twitter @roarkwineco. Phone: (805) 736.8000.

Case production (Chenin Blanc and Ryan's two current red wines) is approximately 1,000. The release date for the 2012 Chenin Blanc was March 2013. Retail: $18 (at Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant).

Thursday's Bottle

Thursday's Bottle


Kessler-Haak Vineyards' 2010 Estate Chardonnay I'll be the first to admit I'm not a fan of chardonnay. I know it's known as America's Sweetheart Grape, but it's never been my favorite. That said: There are a handful of chardonnays I will drink, and this beauty from Kessler-Haak in the Sta. Rita Hills is one of them.

This chardonnay meets my standards of no- or very-minimal oak with lots of the essence of Meyer lemon and a startlingly long finish for a chardonnay.

In 2005, Dan Kessler and Ellen Kessler-Haak planted seven pinot noir clones on 27 acres of rolling hillsides, but reserved a 2.5-acre east-facing hillside for three chardonnay clones, which were planted on low-vigor rootstock so the per-acre tonnage would remain on the lower side.

Besides being two of the nicest, most hospitable people in this industry, Dan and Ellen produce quality wines, among them several clonal selections of pinot noir, syrah and a dry riesling. By day, Dan is assistant winemaker at Lafond Winery & Vineyards, across the river.

This wine is produced from clones 95 and 76. Aged in 35 percent new French oak. Production: 150 cases. Retail: $29. No tasting room;

It's a new month of Thursday's Bottle

It's a new month of Thursday's Bottle


Alta Maria Vineyards' 2010 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley  This rich, ruby-colored pinot noir is full of dark cherry and has perfect balance and a long finish. I enjoyed it alone but this beauty would pair with variety of meats ranging from steak to grilled salmon and anything in between.

The pinot is a blend of clones 777, 2A, Pommard, 115 and Martini sourced from premium vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley. It was aged in 33 percent new French oak for 17 months.

This wine has earned several top scores since its release, including being named one of the Top 50 Pinot Noirs in "America's Best Restaurants," in the April 2013 Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Winemakers James Ontiveros and Paul Wilkins, friends since their days at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, team to produce Alta Maria, and their separate labels are Native 9 and Autonom, respectively. All three are available for tasting and purchase at the tasting room, open daily in Los Olivos.

Production: 4,200 cases. Retail: $28.

Thursday's Bottle

Buttonwood Winery's 2012 "Zingy" Sauvignon Blanc "Zingy," I wondered. Why that name? My first sip later, I understood. This wine embodies zingy; it's easily the most tart sauv blanc I've encountered. And that's saying a lot, because I'm an outspoken fan of this white Bordeaux varietal: I drink sauvignon blanc several times a month.

Winemaker Karen Steinwachs has several vintages from Buttonwood under her belt, and she understands the estate vineyard like nobody's business.

Zingy packs a perfect balance of mouthwatering grapefruit acidity, the kind that pairs perfectly with creamy pasta or cheese. Quite by accident I discovered how well Zingy matched plain crackers topped with sea salt. I sipped, and crunched. And then the cracker box was empty ...

Production: 296 cases, from estate Block 5, the "Zingy" block, at Buttonwood Winery. Whole cluster pressed to cold stainless steel. Tasting room (and seasonal fruit stand) on Alamo Pintado Road outside Solvang. Retail: $20. www.buttonwoodwinery.comCCWP Thursday Bottle Photo 8.1.13

Thursday's Bottle

CCWP Thursday Bottle Photo 8.1.13Blair Fox Cellars 2012 Vermentino Honeyed tart of lemon with a hint of fresh ginger, this Vermentino has a long finish of delicate English rose petals. I cannot wait to try it with fresh seafood.

This Italian grape varietal is newer to me, but it's definitely now on my radar.

Some of the latest DNA grape typing reveals that Vermentino is the same as Pigato of Liguria, as well as Favoria of Piedmont. This news apparently replaces the view that Vermentino is identical to Rollo, prevalent around Nice; both of those varietals are classified under the synonym Rolle.

Winemaker Blair Fox sources this from his Fox Family Vineyard in the hills outside Los Olivos. Santa Barbara County. Retail: $25. Los Olivos tasting room;

Thursday's Bottle

Tercero Wines' 2012 "Outlier" This is a gewürztraminer, but not in the traditional sense: This vintage contains just .3 percent residual sugar. The result is a palate rich with crushed, ripe pink grapefruit and a hint of apricot.

Winemaker Larry Schaffer sourced the gewürztraminer for his 2012 from Alisos Vineyard.

Disclaimer: I work for Schaffer in his Los Olivos tasting room, but all that's relevant here is the truth: I consume quite a bit of Outlier.

It's one I fondly call "the sleeper" wine: Before people taste it, I describe it only as "a dry gewürztraminer." Once it hits a taster's palate, his or her eyes light up as they comprehend the fusion of sweet and tart.

Production: 95 cases. Released June 1. Los Olivos tasting room. CCWP Thursday Bottle Photo 8.1.13Retail: $22.

Thursday's Bottle

(OK, so today is actually Friday; the week got away from me). A-non-ah-mus Wines' 2012 Syrah Rosé

Full of candied cherry and essence of warm, grilled strawberries. Pure fruit-infused sugar on the palate. Great with nut-encrusted grilled salmon, peaches or just alone.

Hill produced his rosé via the saignee method, using syrah from Alisos Vineyard in the Los Alamos Valley. Production: 25 cases — that's just one barrel, folks. Retail: $16

Visit to reach Hill, former assistant winemaker at Babcock Winery before striking out on his own.

Thursday's Bottle

Today is the launch of a new feature "Thursday's Bottle," Central Coast Wine Press' every-Thursday take on new wines. Short and sweet and written in terms we all understand, "Thursday's Bottle" is just like it sounds: A new CCWP Thursday Bottle Photo 8.1.13bottle to try every Thursday evening. Jalama Wines 2011 Mourvèdre

Rich with dried cherries, white pepper, plum and a hint of nutmeg. Long finish full of sour cherry.

Winemaker Mark Cargasacchi selected his best barrels of mourvèdre from both Curtis and Camp 4 vineyards. Fermented with native yeasts; aged 16 months in neutral French oak; unfined and unfiltered. Production: 100 cases. Released May 2013. Retail: $36.; tasting room in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto,