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2001 Hitching Post Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, California

My tastings recorded here tend to wander, and today I've found myself back in the heart of one of the hottest new areas of California viticulture -- Santa Barbara. In particular this area is becoming well known for its Pinot Noir -- thanks to producers like Au Bon Climat, and thanks to vineyard sites like Sanford & Benedict and Bien Nacido.

This wine fits right in with that high profile crowd, as up until recently it was produced at the Au bon Climat facility, and the grapes often come from the two aforementioned vineyards among others.

Hitching Post wines are made by Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini, two local residents who have other "day jobs" while they're not making wine. Hartley is a commercial fisherman, and Ostini owns a small restaurant which serves as the namesake for this wine. These two have been collaborating since 1981 when they made a single barrel of wine in their garage. Today, they produce nearly 4200 cases and are considered one of the cult producers in the area.

Most of their wines are aged in oak for 18 months on the lees, and then racked (carefully poured into another barrel to remove sediment) twice before bottling. No filtering or fining is used.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a medium ruby color in the glass and has a wonderfully lovely nose of raspberries and mushrooms -- earthy without treading into the sharp farmyard smell of some Pinots. In the mouth it is relatively smooth with primary flavors of strawberries with the kick of spicy peppercorns. No noticeable tannins and a decent finish. This wine is slightly unusual in its flavors for a Pinot which would make me warn off people who are looking for either end of the normal pinot spectrum -- it's not lush and extracted, nor is it herbal and earthy. It is, however, reasonably well done.

Food Pairing:
This is a tough one. I'll actually go out on a limb and say that this will go really well with dishes containing smoked trout such as this penne with smoked trout and sugar snap peas.

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $24

I get mine online through Porthos.

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