Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Good things come in Three’s: Trio Tasting Room in Solvang, California

I recently got the chance to visit Trio’s Tasting Room in Solvang on Thanksgiving weekend. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t Solvang the place that has Aebleskivers, (or as I like to call them: evilskeevers), and various other Danish foods. Luckily for Santa Barbara County wine lovers, Solvang is getting to be a hot spot for wine tasting. You don’t believe me? What if I told you that the winemaker behind the famous Sea Smoke Pinot Noir would be pouring her very own wines in a tasting room, you’d be interested right? Not enough. How about I add wines from the winemaker who was behind some of the greatest vintages from the Sanford Winery and the famous Sanford and Benedict Vineyard... You’d be interested right?

You get my point, Trio packs, not one, but three labels under one roof for you to taste right in the middle of Solvang. Curran Wines from winemaker, Kris Curran and Dibruno and Badge Wines from winemaker Bruno D’Alfonso.

Here’s the rundown and some short tasting notes for each. Amazing what you get to taste for $10!

Curran Gewürztraminer 2006
I can’t tell you how much I love this wine. It’s so lovely on the nose, spicy, floral, feminine, and inviting. Kris had been making personal supply of Gewürztraminer for her and friends so she’d have something appropriate to drink when she went out for Thai or Indian food. Thankfully now we can all share in the Curran Gewürztraminer. If you think you don’t like Gewürztraminer, because you've found them to be too sweet, this wine is for you. This wine is not sugary sweet. It was fermented to dryness and is an elegant example of the varietal. Buy this wine.

DiBruno Pinot Grigio 2005 (Library wine) $18
Golden hue, lots of fruit (stone fruit) on the palate balanced with the right amount of minerality and a lot of complexity for a Pinot Grigio . The finish is long and the wine has a wonderful well rounded mouth feel. This wine is a winner. It was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel and malolactic fermentation was inhibited. It is an excellent Pinot Grigio and the grapes are sourced from Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, a little known source of excellent Pinot Grigio as well as Pinot Noir.

DiBruno Pinot Grigio 2006
This wine was not as golden as the 2005 and the fruit was much more zingy and fresh in this wine. I imagine it will age as well as its predecessor.

Curran Grenache Blanc 2006 ($24/ bottle)
I loved Kris’s first vintage of this wine, and this one is just as good. The wine is the color of pale straw, and the interplay of fruit tones combined with a crisp finish make it such an easy wine to sip. This wine was whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks; malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve the crisp fresh fruit on the palate. I will be doing an upcoming story on the Grenache Blanc and a behind the scenes peak at next year’s Grenache Gris which will be part of a new label for Kris Curran.

DiBruno Sangiovese 2004 ($24)
This wine is composed of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Nebbiolo sourced from Stolpman Vineyards. Bright Cherry on the nose and palate, nice chewy tannins and a lovely dry finish. This wine demands and Italian dish. Delicious!

Badge Pinot Noir 2005 (~$39)
Ripe cherry on the nose and palate a well crafted Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir.
Bruno’s first wines made under the Badge label were in 2003. He has been making wine under the DiBruno label since 1997.

Curran 2004 Black Oak Syrah ($30)
This is a great syrah. Dark, smoky, blackberry fruit, notes of anise and tobacco. The complexity is what one expects in a great syrah and this wine delivers. Aged in 25% New French Oak for 18 months and sourced from Black Oak Vineyard.

Curran 2004 Black Oak Reserve Syrah ( to purchase email
This wine is the same as the previous Syrah except that it was aged for 33 months in 100% new French Oak. Kris explained that while some people shy away from 100% new oak for a long period of time that from her experience there is a point where the wine may taste over oaked but as you continue to age the wine in the barrels, equilibrium is achieved resulting in less oak influence and better oak integration into the wine’s profile. I managed to slip some wine science there but it wouldn’t hurt you to learn a bit while sipping a great syrah. The best part about science and wine is that you get to taste the wine to prove the hypothesis, which is much more fun than organic chemistry lab. But I digress. We concur with Kris Curran’s hypothesis after performing our own sampling analysis. The Reserve wine was lovely and yes, had a more velvety mouth feel than the previous and was in fact more fruit forward. An amazing syrah, we highly recommend picking this one up even if they aren’t pouring it. Trust us, if you like the Black Oak Syrah you will love this one as well.

Bonus Syrah: Curran Four Dog Blend Syrah 2004 ( to purchase email
This wine is 72% syrah and the rest is a mix of Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Carignane.
Kris said she will be making this wine every year and it will always have around 72% syrah but the rest will be unique blend of three other grape varietals each year. A lovely syrah blend, we highly recommend it. We got to meet three of the four dogs who inspired the name for this blend. Roland was in the car nursing a broken leg but we got to meet Badge, Gunnar, and Breaker. I love German Shepard’s and these dogs were so mellow that one of them curled up by our feet during our tasting.

Trio is a great addition to Solvang and the Santa Ynez Wine Trail. They are located right next door to the Chef’s Touch on Mission Drive so you can pick a bottle of wine from your tasting and take it over to enjoy with your lunch. Trio will be getting a permit for their outdoor area soon as well. Wonderful staff, very friendly, and we got to meet both winemakers and their beloved dogs. Trio also chills their red wines to their proper serving temperature, which is still a rarity in most tasting rooms. A great inclusive atmosphere, and considering it’s the holiday season, a great place to stop to get some of the best wines in Santa Barbara County for friends and family.

1/19/08 Updates to Post: Link to Trio Wine Club and Website

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