Margerum Wine Company
By Josh Raynolds
I tasted through this year's set of releases with Doug Margerum's winemaker, Jason Barrette, who studied winemaking at his native Australia's prestigious Roseworthy College before beginning a long stint at Penfolds, with whom he still maintains close contact. Margerum has moved his winery into a commodious space in bustling downtown Buellton, which Barrette said "massively increased our public exposure" after bouncing around the Santa Ynez Valley for the last decade. Barrette says he is emphasizing work in small fermenters "to micro-manage individual lots and create a larger palette for blending," using extended macerations to draw out maximum flavor. In addition to the Margerum bottlings the winery also produces wines under the Buoni Anni and Happy Canyon Vineyard labels (both also reviewed in this issue), as well as wines from a vineyard that Margerum owns in Washington and a small amount of rose sourced from the Vaucluse region of France.
2011 Margerum Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc Sybarite Santa Ynez Valley
Pale, green-tinged yellow. Pungent aromas of lime zest, white flowers and mint. Spicy and pungent on the palate, with a nicely restrained sweetness to the chewy flavors of citrus pith, tarragon and licorice. The floral quality comes back on the taut, focused, very long finish.
2011 Margerum Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc D Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Light, bright gold. Seductively perfumed bouquet of smoke-accented citrus and orchard fruits, along with sweet butter and oak spices. Fleshy apple and tangerine flavors pick up notes of anise and candied flowers, with juicy acidity giving the wine spine. Finishes smooth, broad and dry, with resonating spice and citrus fruit nuances.
2011 Margerum Wine Company Chenin Blanc Santa Ynez Valley
Pale straw. Expressive aromas of pear skin, nectarine, honeydew and white pepper. Supple, palate-coating orchard fruit and melon flavors pick up a bitter quality with air, along with subtle herbacity. The melon note repeats on the finish, which lingers with gentle sweetness and good persistence.
2010 Margerum Wine Company M5 Santa Barbara County
(51% syrah, 32% grenache, 11% mourvedre, 3% counoise and 3% carignane): Bright ruby. Spicy black raspberry and blood orange aromas are complicated by suave floral and anise nuances. Broad, sappy dark berry flavors pack a serious punch, with gentle acidity and a tangy white pepper note contributing verve. A hint of bitter chocolate comes up with air and carried through a long, sappy, gently tannic finish.
2010 Margerum Wine Company Grenache Alamo Creek Vineyard San Luis Obispo County
Vivid ruby. Raspberry and Asian spices on the nose, with a subtle floral quality adding interest. Tangy acidity underscores fresh red berry flavors and adds back-end lift and cut. This lively, intensely fruity grenache finishes with brisk redcurrant and raspberry flavors, silky tannins and very good length.
2008 Margerum Wine Company Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard Santa Barbara County
Inky purple. Powerful blackberry and cassis aromas are complicated by suggestions of smoked meat, licorice and violet. Deeply concentrated, spice-accented cherry and dark berry flavors stain the palate, with a licorice note emerging with air. Chewy tannins build on the long, sappy finish, where the cassis note repeats strongly.
2008 Margerum Wine Company Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley
Opaque purple. Energetic aromas and flavors of candied dark fruits, violet and star anise, with a peppery overtone. Juicy and penetrating yet silky in texture; shows an elegant quality and plenty of early appeal. Soft tannins give shape to an impressively long smoke- and spice-accented finish.
2008 Margerum Wine Company Syrah Black Oak Vineyard Santa Barbara County
Dark ruby. Powerful, exotic scents of dark berry preserves, soy sauce, underbrush, smoky herbs and black olive. Pungent, smoky black and blue fruit and candied licorice flavors stain the palate and become spicier with air. The licorice and olive notes resonate on the long, smoky, appealingly sweet finish.
2008 Margerum Wine Company Syrah Alondra de los Prados Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley
(raised in 100% new French oak): Deep violet color. Brooding aromas of black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, minerals and cola. Juicy, penetrating and deep, with powerful flavors of spicy black and blue fruits and cherry-cola. Slow-building tannins are sweet and gently chewy, adding grip to the impressively long vanilla-and-cola finish.
2008 Margerum Wine Company Syrah Uber Santa Barbara County
Opaque ruby. Powerful aromas of dark berry preserves, cola and violet, with an element of oak spice building with aeration. Bright, sweet and expansive, offering intense blackberry and bitter cherry flavors lifted by floral pastille and black pepper nuances. Fine-grained tannins add shape to the very long spicy, smoky finish.