I’m in love ….. with South California wine, this time the Brick Barn line! It’s located in Santa Barbara California, which I’ll review more later.
About the name BRICK BARN — The original estate was an Arabian horse farm, replete with a 36-stall brick barn created by an Italian stonemason in the early 1970s. Winemaker Norman and his wife Kathleen purchased the land and in 2012 planted the first 35 acres. The original brick barn has now been reimagined as a winery and gathering place, while other portions of the ranch continue to be dedicated to organic vegetable farming and cattle ranching.
SANTA BARBARA AVA is of 7 Appellations in the Santa Ynez Valley, established in 1983. This AVA’s unique shape allows to produce cool-climate wines like Chardonnay near the coast, Cabernet and Merlot to the west, as well as Rhône and Italian grape varietals further inland. Because of its extreme climate diversity and “diurnal temperature swing” day-to-night, the Santa Ynez Valley boasts the greatest concentration of wineries in Santa Barbara County. The other AVAs are Alisos Canyon AVA, Los Olivos District, Ballard Canyon, Happy Canyon, Sta. Rita Hills.
From their webpage, BrickBarn says “with the Pacific Ocean just 10 miles away, the marine influence is forceful. Cool morning fog and evening breezes create a moderating effect that enables the fruit to ripen steadily while maintaining a core of natural acidity and structure, but at the same time, sun exposure is persistent across the estate in the afternoons, allowing for the development of rich, layered flavors.”
Viognier is lovely and I’m in love with it! It’s a richly weighted semi-sweet white wine. Viognier is well known in Australia (added also to Syrah’s) and Northern Rhône, but it’s growing in popularity. Wines are often aged in oak to deliver Chardonnay-like richness. The Brick Barn lines is lightly lemon and peach or stone fruits, lightly-softly sweet yet not cloying. Seem to me to be a beautiful summer refreshing lemonade. It will be a summer go-to!
Acier Chardonnay – 100% Stainless steel fermented, allowing for a full fruit freshness and balanced bright acidity. Pairs well with summer and I’d see it with a fruit salad, chicken pecan sandwich and lightly grilled chicken!
Beton Chardonnay – 92* Wine Spectator and Los Angeles silver award winner is 100% Concrete “Beton’s” fermented.
First about Concrete use: though neutral, concrete eggs are a semi-porous and allows for micro-oxygenation like a wood-barrel but without imparting oak aromas or flavors. Concrete also helps to keep the wine cool in very hot climates. Concrete changes the wine by imparting oxygen which softens the wines texture (i.e., a more weighted body) and, in my experience, softens and ‘rounds out’ the acidity and complexity. Concrete is expected to increase in use because they are cheaper than wood barrels, can be re-used more often and taste unique. If you are a wine geek like me, here’s a wine folly article on their history and use (https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/concrete-egg-fermenters-classic-or-cracked-fad/).
The BrickBarn Chardonnay, especially when compared directly with the Acier version, is heavier (more weighted) body with softer acid. They coaxed the wine into a richer flavor profile, softly sweet and rich. BrickBarn says flavors of orange blossom, honeycomb, melon-pear-citrus. I added light lemon curd and sweet spices. One evaluator called it ‘elegant chardonnay” and I agree! People who like steel fermented flavors and those who like oak both like this wine! It’s clear why it was awarded over 90 Wine Spectator points.
Pinot Noir is usually not possible in Southern California and is ONLY possible because of the unique climate near the coast producing cloud-cover and sea-cooled air. I experienced this in June 2022 when returning home from Paso Robles, our group decided to drive the coastal route to the airport. We hoped to see the sea views and instead were engulfed in complete fog with only little glimpses of the seacoast. Furthermore, we had to don our winter coats! While the temperature in Paso Robles had been 100* straight for five days, the coast was more like 50-60* cool climate, and this allows for coastal Pinot Noir to occur.
Brick Barn’s Pinot Noir version is lovely and will surprise you. One expects syrupy jamminess in South Cali, yet this wine has a surprising acidity, lightness, and unique spiciness.
Red Blend (Syrah + Grenache) is more expected of South Cali and is a richly ripe, deep dark red and jammy wine with full fruit, acid and tannin balance and easy drinking. Definitely can pair it with any summer grilled food yet light enough for summer sipping.
Read more on their webpage: http://www.brickbarnwineestate.com
GETTING SOME – As mentioned, I’ve fallen in love with this wine line and encourage you to try them. All the wines retail at near $20 for the 2022 edition pre-Wine-Spectator points and expected to increase, so get them now. You can get it anywhere B2G is sold including on the eastside: Little Italy Wines, Red Wine and Brew, Lakeshore Beverage, The Vault, Alesci’s of Shoregate, Chesterland Vino Type, or a wine shop can reach out to us to bring it in for you!