Pinot Noir Fans: If you're a huge fan of Pinot Noir like I am, then I believe this one winery you'll want to have on your wine-radar. This is my second trip to the Tasting Room in the last couple of years and some things have changed since my first visit, one is that have a new tasting room down Foxen Canyon Road called simply Foxen 7600 and it's truly just down the road and very easy to find as the entrance is right off the road. This short video above was interview done with one of the wonderful young ladies from the tasting room staff, whose name is Mo (I hope I spelled it correctly) and make sure to ask for your temporary anchor tattoo which can be fun thing to give your kids or sport yourself just for the day. She was there the first time I took a good sized group with me to do the "Sideways" tour. As you will see from the video we went right before Christmas and it was pretty cold. The "Shack" as it has come to be known as does not have much in the way of modern conveniences, but where they are short this aspect, on the flip side the wine never disappoints. This is a great place to visit if one of your first stops is at Cambria, which compared to many other of the wineries in the area is pretty far away. So if you make Cambria your first stop of the day, you can easily hit a few great spots on your way to Foxen, makes for a wonderful day of wine tasting.
Foxens Signature Wines: It's all about the Pinot, now while several varieties of wine are produced by Foxen, there are four vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs which come from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, Sea Smoke Vineyard (which Wathen helped develop), Sanford and Benedict Vineyard and Julia’s Vineyard (of which there are four different wineries with this vineyard designation). The PN's they make tend to be richly concentrated in a "New World" style and offer considerable depth and interest to even the most casual observer. These wines are often dark in color, nicely textured, bursting with fruit on the finish and very nicely crafted, but a word of caution these wines need time to open and benefit from decanting.
Some Current Standouts: For fans of "Bone Dry" Chardonnay who love minerally, high acid wines, these are two to you should grab: The Foxen 2008 Bien Nacido Block UU for the suggested retail of $32 or the Foxen Bien Nacido Vineyard Steel Cut Chardonnay which also sells for the same suggested retail price of $32. This SRP normally means the tasting room price, but you can most likely find it retail wine shops for $5 to $10 less. These two wines received some very nice scores of over 90 points from Wine Enthusiast current edition.
Honestly folks I know there's a "hewn-cry" in some (rather snobby) circles (which I'm not in) for this style of wine and wow that's great work if you can get it, but I really don't care for these types of wine all too much (I know saying this won't win me any friends in the wine world). If you do like this style of wine great, I promise not to think less of you because you do, on the flip side there's no need to bash folks as having a pedestrian palate because there are not a fan of your style of wine. Many of the folks in these circles that I'm speaking of will say that this method lets the "pure" fruit shine through, to them I say "really"? (shakes head, rolls eyes) To me these types of wine are just the product of a knee-jerk reaction to big, over-oaked, buttery wines, which I totally get but at the same time I don't agree that the "no-oak" mantra bandied about is the answer either. There's a happy medium, I received a sample of one from a place in Oregon called Carabella, and it's wonderful but there's a balance. The full review to come later, stay tuned! Not sure where that came from, but I feel much better now!
The Wines I took home: So after tasting what was currently available in the tasting room we (that's my wife and I) walked away with the Foxen Range 30 West 2006 (65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon) selling for a SRP of $35. All the technical details about this wine can be found at the link above in a short and sweet style. This wine has Bordeaux styling written all over it. The aromas escaping from the glass was wonderful mixtures of berries and baking spice, enticing you to drink your whole pour and on the palate it has a silky smooth mouth feel and soft tannins, this wine has great dark fruit flavors that lead on it's sumptuous finish. While this wine is fantastic alone, meaning a good cocktail type wine it also lends it self to pairing it with roasted or grilled meats for added enjoyment.
We also took home the 2007 Cuvee Jeanne Marie which sells for a SRP of $34. This wine is like the Range 30 West in like it's a blend. It is becoming real obvious to me that blends are so much better than single varietals in many cases (certainly not all). The blend is composed of 60% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 7% Mourvedre. With the Mourvedre clones coming from Tablas Creek, no wonder it was so good. With this wine there is plenty of bright red fruit flavors that are immediately accessible right out of the gate. There is also some of that deeper, darker (Mourvedre) fruit bringing up the rear which anchors the complexity and suggests some cellar time might be in order. It’s big boned and explosive in the mouth right now, but with plenty of residual secondary flavors which hang in there, long after the finish. You just may have trouble keeping from opening this one right away, but if you do order online or even buy it from the tasting room, be sure to let it catch it breath first. I believe a certain RP gave this wine 91 points, of which I have to agree.
The last one we took home was the very young 2008 Foxen Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley with a SRP of $34 each. This wine features attractive classic Pinot aromatics of cherry, dried cranberry, and a floral component, with just a touch of alcoholic heat. But like I said this wine is young and should be laid down for at least a year for maximum enjoyment, also decanting on this wine is highly recommended. On the palate you'll find this wine to be light to medium bodied with flavors echoing the floral and fruit aromas, with just a hint of mildly detectable residual sweetness found in the enjoyable finish. A wine built to definitely please New World sensibilities, but might distract old-world fans that like their structured dry finishes.
My Recommendations: This is one of the great "Iconic" places to visit if you find yourself in the area. The tasting room staff is always professional and helpful, if you go in the summer months be prepared for large crowds as Foxen is a popular stop for many wine tourist. The wines I choose were taken from a list of 10 or more different wines we tasted that day between the two different locations and I would say they represent your best value for overall quality and price. You could just take my word for it and flip on that PC and order some or cruise to your favorite wine shop to pick up a few, either way I don't believe you could go wrong with these picks I've outlined above. Until next time cheers everyone!