From what was once an under-recognized spot for choice pinot noir, Santa Barbara County, comes another truly striking rendition of that difficult grape – the Belle Glos 2010, from their Clark and Telephone vineyard. Located in the south end of the Santa Maria Valley, it was first planted in 1972 by one of the Wagners, the family more commonly associated with Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley but long devotees of pinot noir, too. The clones are said to have been brought over from Burgundy, chosen by the late Louis Martini, and the yield today is sparse if potent.
This particular wine opens in the glass with a bang: red cherry and cinnamon, with a powerful breath of alcohol that makes a cracker and maybe sliver of hard cheese an advised accompaniment. No aperitif here, though the hints of chocolate and spice are delicate enough, and the wine maintains its considerable presence in the glass for more than an hour; it can go mano-a-mano with the likes of beef rubbed with garlic and chili.
That said, the Clark and Telephone is the most immediately approachable of what are in fact three exceptional Belle Glos pinots, the other two being the 2010 Los Alturas from the Santa Lucia highlands, and the 2010 Taylor Lane from coastal Sonoma. These are best kept for awhile, like most sizable investments. All three wines have their elaborate wax seals that announce close attention to all things viticultural.