Wine of the Week: Alma Rosa, El Jabali, 2018 Pinot Noir | Sta. Rita Hills, California

By Dirk Smits

Pinot Noir | October 12, 2020

Alma Rosa’s vineyards are situated on the north-facing slopes of the Santa Rosa Hills in Santa Barbara County, California. Thanks to foggy mornings and windy afternoons, the temperatures here stay quite cool, allowing the grapes to ripen into fruity, vibrant flavors while retaining their racy acidity and balance. Add a strip of limestone that cuts through the middle of the appellation, and the Sta. Rita Hills’ potential for great Pinot Noir is unrestricted. The Sta. Rita Hills AVA was created in 2001, making it the first sub-appellation of the greater Santa Ynez Valley. Due to a lawsuit from Santa Rita winery in Chile, the appellation (AVA) has to abbreviate Santa Rita.

In Spanish, El Jabali translates to “the boar,” and the vineyard is named after the wild boars that roam through the secluded mountains. The vineyard was planted in 1983 by Richard Sanford, who recognized the geographic anomaly of the area’s transverse mountain range (east/west facing) that provided “refrigerated sunshine.” He was convinced that the cool-climate growing conditions and complex soil makeup had the potential to produce wines reminiscent of the Burgundies he loves. Today, the site is comprised of 38 acres of vineyards, farmed at the highest possible standards. The property is part of the Monterey Formation, an uplifted deposit of sedentary chert and angular clay loam formed during the Miocene period, which provides excellent drainage and contributes to wines with more body and fullness.

Watch our exclusive video interview of Alison Laslett, CEO of Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

Alma Rosa, El Jabali, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills 2018

Origin: Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California, USA
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Sustainability: Sustainable practices, certified organic
Suggested retail price: $68.00
ABV: 14.3%

The 2018 vintage enjoyed ideal conditions for steady development of sugars and tannins in the vineyard. A couple of warm spikes in August were followed by cooling fog and winds that moderated the vintage and led to a mid-September harvest. After a traditional vinification, the wine was aged in 40% new oak for 11 months.

The wine carries a translucent red color. The nose is very Burgundian and shows Bing cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, spice box and a touch of earthiness. These aromas carry over to the palate as well and are accompanied by fine tannins and racy acidity translating into a long, balanced finish. It is already drinking nicely but should easily keep for 6 to 8 years.

Suggested food pairings: Grilled trout and salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken, duck, pork, mushroom risotto, boeuf Bourguignon and cheeses.

> For more information, visit the Alma Rosa Winery official website.