The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2013

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CENTRAL COAST Au Curran! KRIS CURRAN���S WINEMAKING STYLE STAYS UP-TO-DATE by Meridith May / photos by Jeremy Ball K ris Curran earned her stripes at Sea Smoke, creating Pinot Noir of cult status from the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in the Santa Ynez Valley, on California���s Central Coast. That relationship was phased out in 2008, when she started at Foley Family Wines, and when her tenure ended there, she and her winemaking legend-of-a-husband, Bruno D���Alfonso, gave all their attention to their own winery: D���Alfonso-Curran. Operating like the garagistes they are, the winery is housed in what looks like a big barn on their ranch-style property in the Sta. Rita Hills, not far from Sanford Winery, where D���Alfonso was winemaker for many years. We tasted through some current releases from Curran���s Spanish/Rh��ne varietal series, under her Curran label. She sources most of her fruit from the Tierra Alta Vineyard in Santa Ynez. Curran 2011 Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley ($22) Fewer than 1,300 cases are made, but Curran, who is known for beginning the Grenache Blanc movement in the Santa Ynez Valley (although Beckmen was the irst to label it), insists she is the largest producer of the varietal in California. This all stainless steel���fermented wine is brilliant and bright, with an unctuousness from its tannic structure that allows the tropical notes and tart apple juiciness to take on a honeyed component. Curran 2010 Grenache Gris, Santa Ynez Valley ($18) Dry, dusty strawberry; the unripe skin of the berry is softened by a rose petal sugar. This bone-dry ros�� also has a savory side���and will pair beautifully with fatty meats. Curran 2007 Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley ($28) Aged ive years in barrel, this ���07 was just bottled and released last October. An enticing jam of clove and cranberry with hints of bacon drippings and bittersweet chocolate welcomes this varietal���s irst vintage under this label. Kris Curran is one of the leading winemakers in the Santa Ynez Valley. 46 / the tasting panel / march 2013 Curran 2007 Tempranillo, Santa Ynez Valley ($28) Big, masculine tobacco leaf notes charge forward on one side while a reinforcement of juicy ribbons of blackberry surge on the other. It���s not a ight though; it���s a peaceful meeting in the middle earthy core of sarsaparilla and turned soil.

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