2019 Storm Wines, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County.
Only 230 cases were produced of this beautiful deep ruby hued and silken Pinot Noir by Ernst Storm, a talented winemaker who grew up in South Africa, but is now firmly settled into the Santa Barbara wine scene and who is hand crafting a gorgeous collection of wines with some of the best Sauvignon Blanc on the central coast, as well as a killer Syrah, a Gamay and a stellar set of Pinots, including this fabulous new release. I was really excited to catch up with Ernst’s wines, which I hadn’t had in a while, especially as I had tasted his brother’s (Hannes) awesome Pinot, from Storm Wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley region of South Africa, and this Santa Barbara County Pinot, sourced from all the vineyards Storm works with, all smaller unique sites, where the complexity of Santa Barbara’s diverse growing areas thrives, as Ernst notes, are some of the most varied on the West Coast, with an array of soils and tiny micro climates, all of which adds to the drinking pleasure in this 2019 vintage. Everything thing is is sublimely put together here with what tastes like some good whole cluster and the mouth feel is wonderful and caressing on the medium bodied palate with layers of black cherry, raspberry, pomegranate and Moro orange fruits that are supported by delicate spices, sassafras, a hint of sweet heirloom tomato, subtle and seductive florals and mineral tones. The aftertaste and energy alone will make your knees buckle in happiness, this is a compelling offering and whets the appetite for the rest of the Storm lineup and I can’t wait to pop the cork on the new Gamay!

This Storm Santa Barbara County Pinot comes from sustainable, organic and some biodynamic vineyards, the breakdown provided by Ernst shows that the perfectly ripened grapes were hand harvested from, 43% John Sebastiano Vineyard (Organic), 29% Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard (Sustainable), 16% Spear Vineyard (Organic), one of my favorite sites, in particular Samuel Louis Smith’s Chardonnay from there and 12% Donnachadh Vineyard (Organic), all of which are in cool climate zones with mostly sandy loams. I was originally blown away by Hannes’ Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Pinot(s), which I have rated right up there with top Burgundies, so this led me to Ernst’s wines and I am now a big fan of both brothers’ efforts, which are honest and transparent wines with exceptional terroir clarity and nuance. Ernst made this 2019 using about 10% whole cluster and a seven day cold soak with a gentle handling of the wine, including gravity flow and employing a small basket press. This vintage saw about of year on the lees in mostly used French oak with just 20% being in one new tight grained barrique, with the finished blend being bottled unfined and unfiltered to preserve all of the purity in this very balanced and lively wine. The winery explains that this 2019 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir was crafted from a tight selection of Pinot clones with it having a combination of Dijon 113, 115, 667 and Pommard, which highlights the structural form and depth of flavors here. The 2019 is a truly inviting and alluring Pinot that will certainly drink nicely for another decade, but is delicious even now, especially with a relaxed meal that allows it to fully open up, I highly recommend exploring these new Storm releases, this one will not disappoint!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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