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Apr 1, 2011 08:46 PM

TN: 2009 Cold Heaven “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” Sta. Rita Hills Viognier

Two weeks ago I had an appointment to taste with Peter Cargasacchi in Lompoc – more about his own labels' wonderful wines later. He also surprised me with a wine from Morgan Clendenen, the newly released, 2009 Cold Heaven “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” Sta. Rita Hills Viognier, MSRP $37.

Ms. Clendenen was recently featured in a piece in the Wall Street Journal,
“New and Old Worlds Meet in Decadent Viogniers”

Since this particular cuvée was not included, I’ll share a tasting note for how it evolved in the glass and with and without food. First impression was a very restrained, not overtly fruity, mostly minerally, petrichor nose. I reached for the bottle to check the alcohol level . . . 13.5%, and that’s how it felt on the palate, quite a bit shyer than riper styles. At refrigerator temperature, the vibrant acidity and closed down fruit left a clean, taut impression, ending in a citrusy aftertaste. While I could appreciate the style, it was too lean and subtle for my taste. At this point, I would have rated it as VERY GOOD.

I was eating a warm mushroom salad topped with blue cheese and toasted hazelnuts, and tried it with a bite. The cheese popped out more stone fruit flavors in the wine as well as broadening it on the palate. The wine displayed more in the nose as it lost the chill, yet, it was still quite spare.

At this point, Cargasacchi recorked the bottle and gave it a good shake to aerate the wine vigorously theb repoured for me. Ah, now we’re talking. He explained that it had been bottled just two weeks ago and seemed shut down to him. More aroma was released as well as new fruit expression on the palate. Stone fruit and floral joined grapefruit in the cocktail, and the wine picked up weight and more dimension in the mouth. It continued to get better in the glass, suggesting that the wine will benefit from some short term bottle age to harmonize and evolve. My final rating pegs it as EXCELLENT Plus.

Cold Heaven Cellars

“The Tables Have Turned”

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  1. Perhaps "Modernist Cuisine" "hyper-decanting" would have helped even more?!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Paul H

      that book's too rich for my blood for me to have read the exact reference. but if you're suggesting dumping wine into a Vitamix for extra aeration, yes.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        That's the suggestion, also promotes "outgassing"

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Sheesh! Only $92.34 per book on Amazon. [5 volumes = $461.62], but shipping's free. ;o)

          1. re: Midlife

            There are six volumes: five in the slipcase, and a spiral-bound, waterproof "kitchen manual"

            1. re: Paul H

              Oh, well then, that's OK. ;o)))))))))

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Melanie, I've been trying to get to Cold Heaven for years and never could get her even close wines when I was in retail. She seems to fly very much below the radar. Now I need to try even harder. A really good Viognier is just pure joy.

          Can't wait to hear about your Cargasacchi experience. I'm really glad you got to meet up with him. In the few years I owned my shop he was pretty much my favorite 'visiting winery guy', and seeing him at trade events was always special. He's a true character, and one that really knows what he's doing.

          1. The very best dessert wine I have ever had was a Cold Heaven Late Harvest Viognier. Had it around 2005 I think. It was expensive, but intensely floral, very complex and thoroughly memorable.

            1. And who could ask for a better response?