2009 Robleon Wines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: Maturity

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate the award-winning Santa Barbara County Robléon Winery_, a winery that prides itself on crafting sustainably-farmed Pinot Noir – from mature vines. Procure their prized La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir for our deserving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Robléon Winery

Wine Subject: 2009 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir – Sta. Rita Hills

Winemaker: Adam Smith

Backgrounder: The Wine Spies arre always impressed by Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills, a Santa Barbara County growing region that has been producing some of the finest Pinot Noir south of Sonoma and Napa counties. Today’s award-winning wine hails from a producer that allows very few wine merchants access to their prized wines.

California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara have become one of the state’s premier regions for Pinot Noir. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in Pinot of exceptional purity.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Gorgeous, iridescent burgundy hues with a slightly opaque heart of dark maroon. Color lightens as you look toward the ruby edges of the wine. After swirling, tall, chubby wine-stained legs form high up on the glass wall – before moving slowly downward.

Smell – Lush and bold, with a dark rush of blackberry, black cherry and candied wild strawberry leading the way. These are followed by dried red flower petals, earthy bramble and sweet dried leaves. After the wine breathes for a few minutes it opens up, revealing aromas of dried cranberry, dried cherry and subtle wild fennel.

Feel – Velvet smooth on entry, the wine has a sweetly elegant feel. As it crosses the mid-palate, it becomes plush and more complex. As the wine settles onto the palate, it reveals fine-grained tannins and a perfectly balanced brightness.

Taste – Perfectly balanced, with delicious fruit and rustic earthen character playing together in perfect proportion. Candied black cherry, dark raspberry and wild strawberry meld with bramble, dried mixed flower petals, dried earth, softest spice and fennel.

Finish – Ultra long, elegant and packed with flavor. Mixed fruits slowly yield to earthen elements. At the very end, a soft dryness persists, along with a soft flinty minerality.

Conclusion – Truly a fantastic wine, today’s 2009 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir – Sta. Rita Hills, from our new friends at Robléon, really took us by surprise. Maybe it is the mature Pinot Noir vines. Maybe it is the skill of winemaker, Adam Smith. Maybe there is somemagic at play, here, but we are absolutely crazy about this delicious Pinot Noir. This juicy wine shows fantastic fruit – balanced against an elegant earthiness. Bright, food-friendly, complex and wonderful, we give this wine our heartiest recommendation.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Adam Smith

WINE EDUCATION: Northwest Viticulture Center, Willamette valley Oregon

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaking/vineyard consultant, specialist in Pinot noir, Syrah and white Rhone and Chardonnay.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Patience, attentiveness, and a strong understanding of the true potential of each cluster.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Adam. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

ADAM SMITH: Of course.

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

ADAM: camping in the sta. Rita hills when I was a young punk poetry student. I fell hard and scraped my heart against some wild, ink-stained Santa Barbara Syrah. I’ve held myself in that first moment ever since…

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

ADAM: that’s hard to say. I don’t believe you can teach style. A winemaker’s personality has tremendous influence. I have had many friends help me develop and understand the winemaking craft… Through those experiences I’ve found my own style.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

ADAM: Everyone.

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

WINEMAKER: La Encantada is one of the most perfect Pinot noir vineyards in California. This wine is the result of a happy marriage between Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777. Equal parts muscle, mystique and grace.

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

WINEMAKER: BBQ’d salmon. Hands down.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sta. Rita Hills such a special place for Pinot Noir?

WINEMAKER: the Sta. Rita hills is so exposed to various elements: winds from the pacific (which is just a stone’s throw away), unpredictable weather patterns during bloom, loads of sun throughout the days, chilly nights… It wouldn’t be Pinot country if it wasn’t challenging and complex in every way!

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

ADAM: Keeping vigil with the barrels still slow-poking through secondary.

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

ADAM: In smiling company with jams running wild on the stereo.

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!

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