2009 Costa De Oro Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: All that glitters

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Respond to reports of a stellar Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir from Costa Del Oro own Gold Coast Estate Vineyard. If the wine meets our exacting standards, procure an ample allocation for our Pinot-loving Operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Costa Del Oro

Wine Subject: 2009 Pinot Noir – Estate Gold Coast Vineyard – Santa Maria Valley

Winemaker: Gary Burk

Backgrounder: Santa Barbara County’s Pinot Noir may have become famous by the movie Sideways, but the tradition of wine growing and winemaking dates back to the Spanish missionaries but after prohibition many of the vines disappeared. In the early 1970s vines began to reappear and in just a few years, however unlikely, the region began to develop a reputation for producing exceptional Bugundian varietals challenging Oregon and New Zealand in the production of exceptional Pinot Noir.

The Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley where the fruit for this wine was sourced have maritime climates influenced and tempered by the Pacific Ocean and soils of sand and clay loam which suits Pinot Noir exceptionally well.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Light cherry juice hues, lightening to fine pink at the edge of the glass. After swirling, skinny, slow-moving tears start from high up on the glass wall.

Smell – Warm and sweet with lush bright cherry juice, wild strawberry, raspberry and soft spice. After the wine breathes for a few minutes, it reveals dried orange peel, floral dried violet, blackberry, subtle smoked meat and a hint of black pepper.

Feel – Voluptuous and round on entry. As the wine crosses the mid-palate, fine-grained tannins and flinty minerals introduce a gradually spreading dryness.

Taste – Wild strawberry, black cherry, dried rose petals and a hint of black tea lead off. The more you swirl this wine, the more follow on flavors are revealed, including blackberry, subtle dried orange peel, smoky sweetwoods, forest floor and a hint of zingy black pepper at the very end.

Finish – Long and filled with flavor, red fruit gradually yields to darker earthy flavors, with minerals, spice and black pepper at the tail end.

Conclusion – The 2009 Costa Del Oro Pinot Noir, was a great find and we are thrilled to bring you this delicious wine, today. Fragrant and lush, our tasting panel found itself inhaling this wine over and over – before finally taking a first delicious sip. On the palate, this wine shows beautiful balance, presenting wonderful fruit, along with just the right amount earthiness. This wine have a vibrant, alive quality that invites repeated sipping – and spirited discussion about the many wonderful qualities of the wine. Decant for at least 30 minutes and watch this wine really come to life!

Mission Report:

Greetings Gary,

We ask all of our wineries to participate in a winemaker email interview. Please forward the interview, found below, to your winemaker. His or her answers can be as brief or as detailed as desired and will be incorporated into our sale listing.

Top Secret Deadline: (date, 2 days prior to sale)


Agent Red
The Wine Spies, LLC
agentred@thewinespies.com – email
(707) 628-1855 – direct


SUBJECT: Gary Burke

WINE EDUCATION: No formal training. On the job – and lots of reading and drinking!

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Worked for Au Bon Climat and Qupe’ wineries from ‘94-’02. Started CDOwinery during this time. Left in ‘02 to spend full time on costa de Oro.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Less is more”. We are hands off the wine as much as possible, allowing the vineyard to express itself as much as possible. I believe in old-world techniques and styles and try to make pinot that is aromatic and textural more than anything else.



AGENT RED: Greetings, Gary. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirtoday. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

GARY BURKE: Thanks, Agent Red. I’m really happy to be able to share our wines with your Operatives, today.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

GARY: No specific experience made me fall in love with wine but I do remember the first great wine I had – ‘61DRC La Tache. I had never tasted anything so complex in my life and it really changed my concept of what a wine is capable of.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

GARY: My mentors, without a doubt, are Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Bob Lindquist of Qupe’. They introduced me to so many great wines and wine experiences and they taught me a lot about style. Also, Jim Adelman at ABC/Qupe’ was a huge influence, always answering my winemaking questions.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

GARY: I think, ultimately, I make wine for myself but I definitely take into account the consumer and to a certain extent, critics. I am trying to produce wine that is balanced, layered and complex and I think most people want that but everyone has a different idea of what that is in the glass. In the end, I am trying to make wine that I am proud to put out into the world.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

GARY: The 2009 vintage produced very pretty pinot noir. Our ‘09 Estate Pinot is delicate and layered with aromas and flavors of red berries, asian spices, floral notes, underbrush, and earth. It is silky textured and complete throughout the palate. I think a classic pinot lover will really enjoy this wine.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

GARY: I like things off the grill with pinot noir. I think the smokiness of the grill plays off the earthiness of pinot in a way that allows the berry fruit to shine through. A beautiful piece of fresh fish like mahi mahi with a light herb marinade would be a great combination.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Santa Maria Valley such a special place for Pinot Noir?

GARY: Santa Maria is special for pinot because of the way the valley is open to the ocean which allows for the fog and breezes off the ocean to keep our valley extremely cool. Our growing season is longer than most in California and this allows for slow ripening and bright acidity in the grapes. This translates to wines with good vibrancy, great food compatibility, and longevity.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

GARY: My time is taken up between the vineyard & winery, the tasting room, and outside sales. I am always bouncing back and forth between these. It is time-consuming but all part of running a small winery.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

GARY: My bottom line is always drink what you enjoy. I hate the idea of drinking wines because of scores or because someone else thinks its great. Ultimately, wine is about pleasure, so try new wines but always use pleasure as your barometer of what you are going to buy and drink.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our Operatives?

GARY: I would love to invite them to come visit our tasting room in Santa Maria. If you like this Pinot, I am sure you will enjoy a variety of our wines.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Costa Del Oro Winery & Marketplace, where this wine and its brethren can be purchased can be seen in this satellite photo.

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