Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bridlewood Winery

Bridlewood Winery was our first stop in Santa Barbara. Located in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, Bridlewood specializes in Rhone varietals such as viognier, rousanne, marsanne, and syrah. Located on a beautiful spot, the winery used to be a horse farm, and still has horses roaming around in the back.

When we arrived we headed into the tasting room, which had lots and lots of Bridlewood gear--t-shirts, tote bags, baseball hats, it went on and on--and some snack foods in case you wanted to buy a bottle and go out to the terrace for a picnic.

We decided to go straight for the tasting, which was $7 for four pours (and the rolled-edge, Bridlewood etched glass was yours to keep). This tasting had the fewest pours, and the middle price of the three. Could it be all the merchandising that drives up the prices?? And do people really want all these glasses? I'd rather have a cheaper tasting and no glass!

We began the tasting with the 2005 Bridlewood Winery Viognier Reserve Central Coast ($24). 10,000 cases of this wine were made, and I felt it was the best wine of the tasting. I did find bottles at significantly lower prices on Wine-Tracker. This was a slightly sweet, aromatic viognier with citrus and flower aromas and a peachy palate. It would be excellent with curries and rich fish dishes. Good QPR.

The next wine poured was the 2004 Bridlewood Winery Arabesque ($24), Bridlewood's red Rhone-style blend made of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, and Viognier. Light cherry in color, with spicy box aromas, there were cherry flavors and a bitter tobacco flavor on the palate. This wine just didn't hang together for me, and I wasn't at all sure that ageing the wine would help. Poor QPR, given the low prices of most Rhone blends from the Rhone. 970 cases produced.

Next up: the 2005 Bridlewood Winery Syrah Reserve ($22) Predominantly (93%) syrah grapes, blended with a bit of grenache, Roussanne, and Cinsault. This was a big wine, with blackberry, plum, and spicy cedar aromas. In your mouth, you got a smooth, extracted taste of blackberry jam. Unlike the Arabesque, I felt this would continue to improve during a few years of cellaring. Good QPR.

Finally, we had the 2003 Bridlewood Winery Syrah Blue Roan ($30). Faint blueberry and flowery aromas were accompanied by a definite whif of sweet, round oak. There were flavors of cassis and blueberry, with some soft tannins. Very round. Drinkable now, this wine should also improve steadily in the cellar for another 2-3 years. 554 cases produced. Good QPR.

I didn't feel any of these wines were special enough to warrant the prices, but my dad found a bargain: bottles of the 2001 Reserve Syrah for just $9. I wished they had poured some of their gewurztraminer, or one of their late harvest viogniers or syrah ports to round out the tasting a bit. Still, we were glad that we went and tasted these small-production wines that we would not in all likelihood see in the stores.


Fred McTaggart said...

Thanks for the notes. I just bought a bottle of the Arabesque and plan to try it soon. I'll get back to you when I do.

Incidentally, I have a wine blog dealing with wines in the same price range. You might want to look me up at

Fred McTaggart

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Unknown said...

Great review. I agree with you on most points, but the '05 Bridlewood Syrah Reserve was by far the best of the 4 mentioned (at least for me). FYI the Syrah Reserve is on sale at Bevmo's wine sale for about $10 a bottle. IMHO its a great deal for the value. If only the regular price would go for this much