Stunning New Releases from Sandhi Wines of Santa Barbara

downloadSandhi is an exciting joint venture founded in 2010 by Rajat Parr, the 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 second tasting of Sandhi Wines.  We initially tasted them with Sashi during our visit to Santa Barbara in early 2013 in connection with the preparation of Report #36: The Wines of Santa Barbara.  This  tasting confirms our earlier judgment that Sandhi wines 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 and Evening Land Tempest.

Sashi Moorman

Sashi Moorman

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 fruity 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 and readers interested in purchasing them can do so online at or contacting the winery at 805-618-2707.

 Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County ($33) 91  The 2012 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is sourced from vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez appellations.  It displays hints of green apple and yellow fruit with touches of chamomile and toast on the nose. While somewhat light and reticent, it is fresh tasting with good viscosity and rich fruit flavors on the palate, excellent balance and a lingering finish.

Sandhi 2012 Chardonnay Rita’s Crown Sta. Rita Hills ($36) 93  The Chardonnay Rita’s Crown is sourced from the “Crown of Santa Rita” vineyard planted at 600 to 1000 feet on diatomaceous soils.  It displays refined aromas of white flowers, orchard fruit and rich toasted oak. It is round and ripe tasting in the mouth with light viscosity and exhibits intensity of fruit flavors and minerals on the palate. It is beautifully balanced with good acidity and length. A winner.

Sandhi 2011 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills ($36) 91 This Pinot Noir is sourced from different vineyards with a good portion  coming from the classic Sanford & Benedict vineyard.  It displays a sweet, dark red fruited nose with notes of wet earth and hints of mushrooms. It has vibrant fruit red berry flavors on the palate with good acidity and freshness and firm dry tannins on the finish.

Sandhi 2011 Pinot Noir Evening Land Tempest Sta. Rita Hills ($90) 92  This delicious cool climate Pinot Noir is sourced from a two-acre parcel of the Evening Land Tempest Vineyard, which yields less than 2 tons/acre.  It has a dark ruby hue with pure black cherry fruit, earth and stems on the nose.   It offers rich spicy red fruit flavors with toasted oak and nice fullness on the palate, The wine finishes long with high acidity, round firm tannins and youthful freshness. A superb wine that is drinking well now and will be even better over the next 5-6 years.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

January 2014

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