Sea Smoke Cellars

Owner(s) Presscott-Ashe, Bob Davids
Web site www.seasmokecellars.com
Link to this site
Sea Smoke Cellars

Has there been another producer of Pinot Noir in California that has caused as much buzz among Pinot enthusiasts? The emphasis here is on meticulous management of the vineyards using a combination of cutting-edge technology and a highly skilled vineyard team.

The original winemaker was Kris Curran, who also produces Rhone varietals and Sangiovese under her namesake label in Lompoc (she left for Foley Estates in 2008 and was replaced by Don Schroeder formerly of Ampelos Cellars). This proved to be a fortunate hire, for Schroeder has taken the wines in a different direction with slightly less extraction, less ripeness (and consequently slightly less alcohol), and less new oak elevage,

Owner Bob Davids began the development of Sea Smoke Vineyard in 1999 on the south-facing hillsides of the estate situated above Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Santa Rita hills appellation of Santa Barbara County. 10 clones are planted in multiple blocks on the 100-acre estate vineyard (detailed on the website). There are six soil types and elevations from 300 to 700 feet.

Founded in 1999, the first vintage was 2001 and production which in 2004 was 4,700 cases, is expected to reach a maximum annual output of 16,000 cases by 2010. Some grapes are sold to other nearby wineries including Brewer-Clifton and Foxen.

There are three estate bottlings representing a blend of different blocks of the estate vineyard: Southing, Botella and Ten. An excellent estate Chardonnay is also produced. Total production of estate vineyard wines is about 13,000 cases per year. The Sea Smoke lineup of Pinot Noirs are a hot ticket and sold primarily through the mailing list. Allocations are tight. No tasting. Some fruit is sold to selected producers in the region (Foxen, Hitching Post). 805-737-1620.

In 2012, Prescott-Ashe invested in Sea Smoke and became a capital partner, taken on for estate-planning considerations.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Sea Smoke ‘Streamside’ Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.9% alc., pH 3.47, TA 0.598, $60. Release October 2015. Fermented in French oak barrels (55% new), stainless steel (10%) and demi-muids (10-15%), with periodic lees stirring. Aged 16 months before bottling. The stylistic sibling to the ‘Southing’ Pinot Noir. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Fragrant with scents of fresh peach, lemon, biscuit and nutty oak. Silky on the palate with resourceful flavors of lemon-lime, quince and toasty oak. Very refined with a subtle flinty minerality and some finishing presence. Score: 90. Reviewed April 20, 2015 ARTICLE »

2012 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.58% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.65, $60 (1.5 ml $125). The name refers to the south-facing hillside block of the estate vineyard. Grapes spent an evening in the cold room after picking and sorting and then 100% de-stemmed. Musts were cold soaked for 1 to 4 days, then inoculated with cultured yeasts. Manual punchdowns were carried out three times a day, with a total maceration time of 14 to 18 days. Free-run juice was transferred to tank for settling. Pressing was carried out at very low pressure. After settling, both free-run and press wines were racked to 55% new French oak barrels for 16 months aging. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Gorgeous nose featuring spiced berries, violets, sous-bois and a hint of vanilla. The flamboyantly flavored core of black raspberry and plum is accented with spice and an undertone of earthy flora. Amazing fruit flavor, yet angelic, with a very soft and seamless demeanor, with oak adding complimentary seasoning. The fine-grain tannins are beautifully integrated and the typically bright Sta. Rita Hills acidity adds vibrancy. The finish is long and pleasing, filled with spicy plum goodness. This wine demands your attention from the get-go. Still stunning the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, when I drained the bottle. Score: 97. Reviewed December 10, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Sea Smoke Sea Spray Blanc De Noirs Sta. Rita Hills Sparkling Wine

11.9% alc., pH 3.15, TA 0.90, $80. A methode champenoise wine with limited production. A long, cool fermentation began in stainless tanks, and was completed in once-used and neutral French oak barrels. After 6 months of sur lie aging in barrel, the was bottle aged an additional 16 months en tirage before disgorging, and finished with no dosage to preserve its finesse. · Delicate light salmon color in the glass with an effusive bead. Aromas of brioche, lily bouquet and sandy beach lead to discreetly intense flavors of cherry, strawberry, blood orange, apricot and rose water. A bone dry sparkler that is expansive in the mouth, finishing with mouthwatering, steely, orange-infused acidity. Score: 92. Reviewed December 10, 2014 ARTICLE »

2010 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.42% alc., pH 3.36, 0.7, $59 (Magnums $124). Released Octobers 2012. Exclusively Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard. Aged 16 months in 55% new French oak barrels. · Medium dark purple color in the glass. Well-endowed with seductive aromas of spice plum and dark red rose petals. Clearly a special wine that is very charming now. Discreetly concentrated flavors of plum, boysenberry and black cherry with a whisper of spice and vanilla, finishing with an intensely aromatic black cherry flourish. Beautifully composed with balanced tannins and welcoming acidity. A complete wine. Still impressive the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Sea Smoke Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.6% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.68, $59. Released October 2012. Exclusively Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard. Predominantly Wente clone with smaller amounts of Dijon clones 76, 95 and 96. Aged 16 months in 55% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. A majestic, full-on California style Chardonnay. Aromas of lemon curd, butter brickle, and roasted nuts. Richly flavored with notes of citrus, baked pear, and toasty oak complimented by clean, crisp acidity. Sta. Rita Hills is not just Pinot Noir country, for its Chardonnays typically offer incredibly lush, chewy, hi-tone fruit backed by generous, defining acidity. For those who relish this style of Chardonnay, it doesn’t get any better. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Sea Smoke Ten Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.65% alc., pH 3.38, TA 0.69, $82. Released October 2012. Ten clones (113, 115, 459, 667, 777, 09, 16, Pommard 5, 2A, and Mt. Eden selection) exclusively from Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard. Aged 16 months in 65% new French oak barrels. · Dark purple color in the glass. Very muted nose, opening very grudgingly to reveal aromas of fresh dark berry preserves. Similar in flavor to the Southing but showing more intensity, featuring dark red and black berries and cherries with an echo of oak. Rather unexpressive now but the potential is obvious. Very polished with well-managed ripe tannins and bright acidity. Spectacular the following day from a previously opened and recorked bottle, displaying flamboyant aromas of spicy berries, a creamy texture and a long, powerful finish. Cellar this sumptuous wine for several years. Reviewed December 8, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.33, VA 0.67, $52. · Moderately deep reddish-purple hue in the glass. Very reserved nose offering demure aromas of black fruits, oak char and spice and violets. The black plum, cassis and black cherry fruit has impressive presence on the mid palate, underscored with appealing earthy, iron and mineral character. The tannins are fine-grain and accommodating and there is a good cut of acidity in the background. This seductive wine ends with an aromatic whiff of musk and flowers. Shows an elegance missing from previous Sea Smoke vintages. Very good. Reviewed November 30, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Sea Smoke Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

14.9% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.63, $52. · Light straw yellow color in the glass. The nose offers reserved aromas of honeycomb, lemon pastry, sandalwood and a hint of mocha. Well-endowed with flavors of lemon curd, baked apple, roasted nuts and toasty oak. Creamy on the palate with integrated acidity and a dry, citrus-driven finish. Very good. Reviewed November 30, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Sea Smoke Ten Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.67, $80. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Fresh and vibrant perfume of purple berry compote, plum reduction sauce and hibiscus tea, offering displaying more intensity over time in the glass. This wine offers flavors of blackberries, Hoison sauce in perfect balance with refined tannins and vital acidity. The purity of the fruit really grabs your attention as it unfolds in layers across the palate. The mouth feel is velvety, the oak is beautifully integrated, and there is very impressive length on the fruit-laden finish and a step up in pleasure from the Southing bottling. Honed to go the distance in the cellar. Reviewed November 30, 2011 ARTICLE »

2005 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

$54. · The wine had been bottled only one month previous and was still a little closed. Despite this, it was obvious there was terrific stuffing here. The aromatics are very expressive of ripe fruit, and the tannins are reigned in. This is definitely a large scale, fruit-powered Pinot Noir that will appeal to lovers of a hedonistic style. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »

2002 Sea Smoke Southing St. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of darker berry compote with notes of graham and leaf. Richly endowed with appealing dark berry fruit, showing an earthy and smoky tone, and lashed with oak and firm tannins. Still holding and should last several more years but will always be a tannic wine. Good (+). Reviewed November 30, 2011 ARTICLE »

2002 Sea Smoke Ten Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $ (current secondary market retail prices from $225 to $300). The inaugural vintage of Sea Smoke Ten which is composed of all ten clones planted on the Sea Smoke estate. Aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. · Plenty of confected fruit with aggressive oak on the nose. Medium-weighted dark fruits with hints of raisin and oak. Smooth and soft with fine tannins on the dry finish. Decent but not exceptional. Reviewed August 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2001 Sea Smoke Botella Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.. Inaugural vintage. · Moderately dark reddish-purple with slight bricking of the rim. Brooding aromas of prunes, oak, herbs and cardamom spice. Moderately rich and ponderous with a core of very ripe, roasted dark fruits including black raspberries and black plums. Noticeable oak tannins with hi-tone acidity on the finish. Meant for earlier drinking and has run its course. Drink up. Decent. Reviewed November 30, 2011 ARTICLE »