TASTING IN ARROYO GRANDE
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
Before heading back to LA, Richard and I had one more winery stop in Arroyo Grande...
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery has been making wines since 1982… and its brochure promises: “The Land Is Ours – The Grapes Are Ours – The Wine… Is Yours.” OK, we’d bite. Well, “sip” anyway.
Selim Zilkha, the founder of a successful wind power development company and champion of environmental sustainability, is the winery’s current owner and has insured that all Laetitia wines are “sustainably-produced.” He’s also done a fine job to insure that they taste good, too!
The tasting room amid the sprawling vineyard is in a large modern structure with a manicured front lawn adorned w/ Adirondack chairs and yellow and white striped umbrellas, allowing tasters to sip wine as they enjoy the gorgeous vineyard view.
Inside, the room has a barn-like feeling with its beams, pitched ceilings, and wooden barrel tasting tables.
We opted for the tasting bar. Bob, w/ a welcoming twinkle in his eye, was our barista.
One of the first things we noticed was a very large bottle on the fireplace mantel behind the bar w/ the mask of the Phantom of Opera as its label.
As Bob poured our flight, he told us that Laetitia was chosen to supply wine for the Phantom movie’s opening night party. To honor the occasion, the winery commissioned an artist to etch the Phantom logo into the glass of the magnum. When the party was over and the clean-up underway, the winery crew found the bottle in the trash. Aware of the work and creativity that went into designing that bottle they rescued it and brought it home to the winery, where it proudly sits, perched on that mantel like the treasured art piece it is. Oh, those movie people! What do they know? At least they didn’t try to sell it on eBay.
Our tasting started with a couple of whites: the 2010 chardonnay ($18) and the Nadia White, a blend of 56% viognier, 33% Grenache blanc and 11% Roussanne ($30) – Both wines, simply stated, were sublime, especially the Nadia White!
Laetitia is famous for its pinot noirs (434 acres of pinot noir grapes), so we were anxious to move from blanc to noir…
We tasted four: The 2009 Estate Pinot Noir ($25), the 2009 Reserve DuDomaine ($40), the 2007 Single Vineyard La Solline ($60) and the 2007 Single Vineyard Les Galets (The Rocks) ($60). Even before “Sideways” pinot noir was Richard’s favorite red wine grape and would be happy serving and sipping any of these wines paired w/ salmon, or roast turkey, or a crown roast pork or just w/ nothing but a glass to pour it in. I agree. All these wines deserved their over 90 pt. ratings from Wine Enthusiast.
Time to move from the pinot noirs to the more earthy full-bodied reds.
First up was the 2009 Barnwood Grenache ($22) - Laetitia’s Barnwood label, as Bob explained, is dedicated to Bordeaux and Rhone wines, and are made from grapes from the highest vineyard in Santa Barbara. And this wine lived up to that heritage… smooth to the taste w/ hints of cherry and tobacco.
Our next taste was the 2008 Laetitia Syrah ($25) – w/ a deep plum color, I tasted berry pie and spices as my nose was filled w/ aromas cedar and rose. A garden of earthly delights in a bottle.
Last but not least, Bob poured the 2006 Barnwood Port ($30) – a cab/cab franc blend – this is a spectacular, full-bodied wine w/ all the dark cocoa and citrus notes you want in a good port w/ a little graham cracker to conjure up thoughts of s’mores and more.
Our tasting done, Bob had one more thing he wanted to share w/ us. A silver saddle. We were intrigued. Why would a winery display a saddle… silver or otherwise? Well, as he told it, Laetitia had entered a Houston Rodeo Wine competition and became Grand Champion for red and was awarded the silver saddle. And, like the Phantom bottle, the saddle was displayed proudly. And that’s a saddle tale if I ever heard one.
So, if you saddle up and ride into Arroyo Grande, you won’t be sorry if you sidle up to the Laetitia Vineyard and Winery. (I know, I know... my fingers made my type that...)
Laetitia Vineyard & Winery
453 Laetitia Vineyard Drive
Arroyo Grande, Calif. 93420