When your friend asks if you would like to join him and his wife to pick up a wine club shipment in Los Olivos, you say “yes”!! Los Olivos is located about 75 miles away from our home which is a farther distance than we are used to driving but it’s a beautiful drive nonetheless.
Our friends were picking up their wine club shipment from Brander Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. The winery is tucked away just off Highway 154 along a frontage road. Brander is an unassuming winery if you consider a castle unassuming. The grounds are beautiful with vineyards on both sides and spacious rustic courtyards with plenty of areas to call your own for a picnic.
The tasting room is unpretentious with a nice view of the vineyard from the bar. They had a nice platter of cheese and crackers set out which was very nice. We were served by Jaisey who was very friendly and knowledgeable and willing to answer our questions about the wine and the winery. Fred Brander himself stepped behind the bar for a few moments in his modest working garb without a hint of snobbery.
There were two tasting flights Reserved and Classic. We maximized our tasting experience; Ray chose the Classic flight and I took the Reserved; but we shared tastes. All the wines were good and characterized the Santa Ynez region. From the Reserved list the 2015 au Naturel Sauvignon Blanc made Ray a fan. It had the astringent feel of a Sauv Blanc but a smooth finish and more complex than most Sauv Blancs. It had notes of coconut and fig; and Ray noted the lavender as described in the tasting notes. The Classic list had the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon; what was memorable about this can be best described as the “Pinot” drinkers Cab. It was lighter that most Cabs, but complex and delicious. Not on these lists was the 2014 Syrah. This had to have been one of the best Syrahs we’ve tasted. It’s everything you like in a Syrah, bold, earthy, a little gamey, but complex with flavors that gave you something different at each sip. As a side note, 2014 was the 3rd(some would say 4th) year of the California drought, and this was the golden year for most wines in California as most of the grapes were stressed enough to attain the richness of flavors…especially Syrah. All this aside, the Brander 2014 Syrah was our favorite this day and even went home with a couple of bottles.
If you are ever in the Santa Ynez area, we recommend you stop by Brander Winery.