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Jul 3, 2008 08:34 PM

TN: Orfila Winery, San Diego

On the advice of Zin1953, I went here, and was well-rewarded:

2006 Bien Nacido - Nose: mineral, wet concrete. Palate, apricots, white peach, with some sweetness. $18.50

2006 Gerwurtz: delicious nose. Spicy and complex, with a long finish. $15.00 Bought one bottle.

2005 Sangiovese: A little earth on the nose. Fruit, oak, soft, salty bacon. Meaty, dark plum, very full, but bright with acid. $22.00

2005 Cuvee Merlot: Oak on the nose, with flowers coming through it. Taste - a little meat, tannic finish. Salty, almost caramel. Blackberry. $18.00

2005 Reserve Merlot: Dark, smoky flowers, dusty nose. Spice, dark fruit, luscious. Smoke, spice, some jam, not overripe though. Cedar and tobacco finish. $28.00 Bought one bottle - the limit, unfortunately.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: !Cassis! nose: that Cab thing. Very dry, some oak, very subtle though. Herbs, black pepper, licorice. $22.00 Bought 2 bottles.

2005 Estate Syrah Heritage - earth, leaves, reminds me a bit of Chat du Pape, but for the money ($35), I'd rather drink CdP.

2005 Muscat: apricot, honey, and candy. $15 for a 750 ml bottle. I bought 2.

I was astounded by not only the quality that far south, but the value, also. For 6 bottles at various price points, shipped 100 miles, it was only $130.00 or so. I am very excited about this purchase!

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    1. I'm going to SD in August and would be interested in visiting. What was the best wine in the tasting?

      1 Reply
      1. re: stevino

        The best wine? Hmm... depends on your preferences and palate. I liked different bottles for entirely different reasons, and bought what I preferred, based on subjective things, like taste associations, as well as what I thought about their relative QPR. The most expensive, and complex bottle I bought was the Reserve Merlot. I'm planning on laying it down for a couple of years. But, I was charmed with the dessert wine, which is bright and clean, and completely different from the dark, dusty merlot. Sorry if that's a non answer, but you've just got to taste them.

      2. Thanks for posting this! I go to San Diego all the time but I didn't know this place existed (thank you also, Zin1953)! I definitely am going to check it out. Wow, the wines look great on paper, I'm sure they'll be great in person as well!

        1. Yes, this has been one of my favorite wineries for quite some time now, and I was astounded to find such quality so far south; again kudos to the winemaker.

          Our "go-to" Orfila wines that we used to get by the case are the Gewurtz, a blend they have called Lotus, and their Muscat. Their Syrah is also worth decent.

          Alas, due to the draconian situation for shipping wine to North Carolina, as of 2007 we can no longer have cases shipped directly to us, so we used up our supply and haven't been able to get more, though I have begged local wine stores to acquire some. I just wish I could find a way to ship around it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: fussycouple

            State liquor laws!!! Aghhhh! As a native Southerner (raised in Tennessee, relatives from Virginia through the Carolinas to Alabama), I feel your pain. I relocated to California as a naive young thing 22 years ago, and, though I have always enjoyed wine, have only become obsessed with it recently. The difficulty that people have in procuring wine in other states is appalling to me. North Carolina is a beautiful place, don't get me wrong. But it would be even more beautiful if the fine people there could see their way clear to reforming alcohol laws. Don't even get me started on Pennsylvania!

            1. re: vickib

              Most of the time it's the wine distributors that manage to convince state legislatures that underage drinkers will gain access to alcohol if consumers are allowed to receive shipments from out-of-state. The distributors are protecting their profit by ensuring that all wine must go through them to reach the consumer. These laws are often passed without the awareness of the local public until it's too late. Illinois just fell prey to this and Florida & Texas are about to.

              Only licensed sellers are allowed to ship alcohol in the US and only public carriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL) are allowed to deliver it. All the carriers charge a significant fee to check a picture ID on delivery and are not allowed to just leave the shipment without it. The underage argument is much more emotional that factual, but it works (along with significant campaign contributions from the distributors).

              State-only distribution is much more draconian I think as it denies the public the ability to earn a living in that area of commerce, but it IS at the retail-to-consumer level that the underage issue is real. Underage sales are the target of pretty much all the California ABC decoy programs and it keeps them very busy. Why a merchant would jeopardize a valuable license by not checking for ID is beyond me, but I know it happens a lot.

              1. re: Midlife

                Aha. Yes, the underage drinking thing. I don't understand why merchants do this, either. My son is 19, and is a big, strapping, fully bearded guy. I know that he has been sold alcohol as far back as 2 years ago, when he was 17! Just a month ago, we were in a restaurant, and he ordered a beer. I objected, citing his age, and I could see the fear flashing across the waitress' face. In CA, they're supposed to card anyone who looks 35 or younger. This obviously does not happen all the time.

                And, I was not aware that it was the distributors who pushed state laws limiting commerce through. That's too bad.

                1. re: vickib

                  Just to take the pressure off that server just a bit........... California's ABC says to check the ID of anyone who does not appear to be age THIRTY (30).

          2. I think Leon Santoro is one of the most underrated winemakers in CA. He started up in Napa (for what it's worth), but has really carved out his own niche and has gone a long way to putting San Diego County on the quality map. Make sure to try his Rhone whites.


            5 Replies
            1. re: prrusty

              Agreed, Rusty -- and where did he start out???

              In the cellars of Louis M. Martini . . . .


              1. re: prrusty

                Totally in agreement with you on Leon and he's a great guy as well.

                1. re: prrusty

                  that's what happens when you make wine this far south...

                  1. re: ibstatguy

                    Wish there were more Leon's this far south.