Sandhi is an exciting joint venture founded in 2010 by Rajat Parr, the gifted wine director for Michael Mina Restaurants, Charles Banks, the former owner of Jonata and Screaming Eagle, and the talented winemaker, Sashi Moorman. Their goal is to produce distinctive high quality wines from select vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County.
This is our third tasting of Sandhi Wines. We initially tasted them with Sashi Moorman during our visit to Santa Barbara in early 2013 in connection with the preparation of Report #36: The Wines of Santa Barbara. This tasting continues to confirm our earlier judgments that Sandhi wines are top notch and show the great potential of the Santa Rita Hills for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir– especially those from unique high altitude single vineyards like Rita’s Crown.
Sandhi wines are fresh tasting and vibrant, exhibiting richness and refinement on the palate. The Chardonnays go through malolactic but are restrained and elegant with lovely floral and fruit qualities. The Pinot Noirs are pure in flavor, complex and somewhat earthy as a result of whole-cluster fermentation. The vineyard-designated wines are a big step-up in quality and price from the entry-level wines. Sandhi wines are not widely available, but readers interested in purchasing them can do so online atwww.sandhiwines.com or contacting the winery at 805-618-2707.
Tasting Notes and Ratings:
Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills ($38) 90+ The 2012 Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills offers aromas of citrus and minerals. It is crisp and mouth filling on the attack with tangy citrus flavors, good acidity and a crisp finish with good length. Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Bentrock Vineyard Sta Rita Hills ($90) 92 The Chardonnay Bentrock Vineyard offers rich tropical aromas on the nose with citrus notes. It is very flavorful on the palate with flinty highlights and toasted oak. It finishes with impressive density and length. Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Rita’s Crown Sta. Rita Hills ($36) 93 The Chardonnay Rita’s Crown displays refined aromas of white flowers, orchard fruit and rich toasted oak. It is round in the mouth with lovely viscosity and exhibits intensity of fruit flavors and minerals on the palate. It is beautifully balanced with good acidity and length. A winner. Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Sanford and Benedict Vineyard Sta Rita Hills ($55) 92+ This Chardonnay from the renown Sanford and Benedict Vineyard is light aromatically but is fresh and chalky on the attack with bright acidity and lemon-like notes. It is precise and focused on the palate with beautiful balance with a rich, dense finish. Sandhi 2013 Rosé Sta Rita Hills ($24) 91 This is one of the finest rosés we have tasted in a long time. Dark orange in color, it is very dry and mineral-like on the attack with lovely fresh strawberry fruit on the mid-palate and finish. Elegant and refined. Sandhi 2012 Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills ($38) 90+ This Pinot Noir offers spicy dark cherry aromas with hints of forest floor. It is precise and focused with nicely integrated cherry fruit and oak, bright acidity and a rich finish.
Domaine de la Côte is another project of Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman. These wines are sourced from six fabulous vineyards situated on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Rising to an elevation of 700 feet above the Santa Ynez River, they are situated on an ancient 25 million year old silex and diatomaceous seabed seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyards totaling 40 acres are planted to California heritage selections at extremely high densities of 4,000 to 7,000 vines per acre. They are organically farmed and exhibit different micro-climates. We visited the site during our last trip to Santa Barabra County, and we were overwhelmed by the terrain and its great potential, which is fully realized in these wines.
Tasting Notes and Ratings
Domaine de la Côte 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills ($45) 91 The 2012 Pinot Noir exhibits a fragrant pure dark cherry nose. The purity carries through on to the palate which is richly flavored with dark cherry, portabella mushroom and underbrush notes. It has a silky texture, high acidity, excellent balance and persistence through to the finish. Domaine de la Côte 2012 Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field Sta Rita Hills ($70) 92 The Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field offers red and dark cherry aromas with savory notes on the nose. It is very rich, creamy and dense on the palate with beautiful balance and lingering richness on the finish. Domaine de la Côte 2012 Pinot Noir La Cote Sta Rita Hills ($90) 93 The Pinot Noir La Cote displays a complex nose of dark cherry plum, savory herbs and forest floor. It is crisp and fruit forward with a lovely silky mouth feel, excellent balance, and earthy fruit flavors. Finishes with rich extract, spice and persistence. A superb wine.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler