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Carr Vineyards & Winery: The Latest Releases

I featured this excellent producer of Pinot Noir in a recent issue of the PinotFile ( This urban winery (the winery and tasting room is located in downtown Santa Barbara) is under the direction of Ryan Carr who is also in charge of a vineyard management and development company that currently supervises over 100 acres of vineyards in Santa Barbara County.

Carr Vineyards & Winery produces 3,000 cases of multiple varietals with a focus on the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The two 2007 Carr Pinot Noirs reviewed last year from the 2007 vintage were very good and the four 2008 Pinot Noirs reviewed below are equally fine. All the wines are beautifully aromatic with engaging fruit and lively acidity. Prices are sensible.

2008 Carr Vineyards & Winery Three Vineyards Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 350 cases, $38. Released in March 2010. Sourced from Turner Vineyard, The Yard Vineyard and Lindsay’s Vineyard. Clones 777, Pommard, 115, 114. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak barrels. · Shy nose initially, opening over time displaying aromas of black cherries, strawberries and sweet oak. Crafted in a lighter vein and soft in the mouth with vivid flavors of red berries, cherry skins, sandalwood, vanilla wafer and a touch of citric lift on the finish. A tasty, solid wine that will find many fans. Good (+).

2008 Carr Vineyards & Winery Turner Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 210 cases, $40. Released in March 2010. From a 21-acre vineyard located in the northern part of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The vineyard is owned by Henry Schimberg and farmed by Ryan Carr who planted the vineyard in 2000. Clones 777 and Pommard. Aged 12 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Scent of spiced berries, Herbs de Provence, oak and mint. Generous core of cherry and raspberry fruit with savory herbs in the background and a note of citrus peel on the finish. Soft and smooth in the mouth with vibrant acidity and some persistence on the finish. A fine table wine. Good (+).

2008 Carr Vineyards & Winery The Yard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 98 cases, $45. Released in March 2010. The Yard Vineyard was planted by Ryan Carr in 1998 and is located at the northern tip of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. The original owners ceased farming the vineyard so it was never harvested, but in 2005 Bryan Babcock leased the vineyard and it is now in full production. Clones 114 and 115. · The nose is more savory than fruity with notes of underbrush, spice, black tea and oak. Very tasty, even striking, flavors of fresh cherries and strawberries, with undertones of melon and brioche. Very smoothly textured with knife like acidity on the citric finish. I really like the intense strawberry flavor of this wine. Very good.

2008 Carr Vineyards & Winery Kessler-Haak Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 98 cases, $50. Released in March 2010. The 29-acre Kessler-Haak Vineyard was established by Dan and Ellen Kessler in 2004 and cultivated by Ryan Carr. The 2008 harvest is the first from this site. Yields were a ridiculously low .19 tons per acre. Clones Pommard, 2A, 113 and 667. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak barrels. · The intoxicating aromas really explode over time in the glass offering nuances of raspberries, black cherries, spice box and mocha java. Delicious essence of cherry-berry pie with hints of vanilla cream, anise and dark chocolate. Very soft, even sensual, in the mouth. This is a wine you can cozy up to like a warm blanket, embracing its comforting gratification. On my 2010 All-American watch list.

The Carr Vineyards & Winery tasting room in Santa Barbara is open daily. The wines are also available from the online store at

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