A visit to Brewer Clifton

Wow! I had no idea they made that many different Chards and Pinots. How many cases are they producing yearly? Very generous outpouring, thanks for the notes.

wow, that’s a task to even try and note all those wines

looks like fun, thanks for the insight

Any older stuff?

That is a very generous and impressive tasting, but I hope it included some points of reference, those guys go back a ways.

Lots of wine, but many are only a few barrels.

Did you try the 2008 Ampelos PN at Samsara? That was my favorite wine. How’s the rose project?

Brent, it was new/current releases.

When I called Greg and Steve to set up the tasting they said our timing was very lucky because, “they were going to have a tasting earlier that day in which they were going to have all of their new releases open.”

They said it was their most important tasting of the year, that afterwards we were welcome to come by, and that both of them would be there.

While we were there tasting they mentioned it was the only time that they ever have all of their wines open…

Robert Parker was in Santa Barbara County tasting that day and for several days prior.

1+1+1+1=4? We suspect that we tasted immediately or soon after Robert Parker? [drinkers.gif]

Here are my notes: (no older vintages, just current releases)


2009 Diatom:

Babcock - ripe, nice fruit, good length on the finish, but too extracted for my taste - 89 pts

Huber - interesting nose, minerality, banana, a little mint, touch of heat - 90 pts

Clos Pepe - a little muted, tropical nose, good acidity, citrus on the palate - 89pts

Drum Canyon - tight nose, a bit of tropical fruit coming through and some stemminess, sweet enough to maybe have some residual sugar - 88pts

2008 Brewer Clifton:

Santa Rita Hills - a bit of greenness (stems), eucalyptus, nice mouthfeel, good acidity, fruit a bit sour, green apple and citrus, very clean finish - 90pts

Sanford & Benedict - muted nose, muskiness like sweat, rich and creamy mouthfeel, sweet (syrupy) finish - 88pts

SeaSmoke - hints of oak, musky fruit, nice acid on the forepalate & midpalate, good balance of fruit and acid, even through the finish, quite nice - 91pts

Gnesea - nice nose, complex but not overpowering, more floral and vegetal than fruit on the nose, creamy texture, tart fruit on the finish, similar to fresh pineapple - 90pts

Mount Carmel - muted nose of perfume and tropical notes, with some heat, spicy, sharp acidity, nice mouthfeel balancing creaminess and acidity, finish a bit short/abrupt - 89pts

Sweeney Canyon - interesting nose, florals, a smell of clean cotton, grapefruit, rich mouthfeel, banana/tropical fruits, fruit is heavy/syrupy for my taste, yet it is a complex wine - 90pts


'09 Inox - muted nose, clean, high acid, apple and citrus, sharp (in a good way - acidic) finish - 89 pts

'08 Vernas - I smell stems on this one - I like it, good herbal nose, fruit is sweet, however, very extracted all the way to the finish - 88pts

'08 Estate - muted nose, some melon, a bit of some sort of musky funk, some petrol on the palate, interesting, but fruit is again too extracted for my taste - 90pts

'08 Donnas - some heat on the nose, more petrol like the Estate, seems like it could be a little reductive, but not sure how that’s possible, nice balance on mouthfeel, much more my style of wine, good acidity, just a bit too sweet on the fruit - 90+ pts

Pinot Noir

'08 Brewer-Clifton:

Santa Rita Hills - dark cherry, rhubarb on the nose, strong acidity, fruit again seems a bit extracted/sweet for me - 88pts

Zotovich - a beautiful creaminess on the nose, nice vegetal qualities as well, likely from whole cluster, rhubarb and strawberry on the palate, acid in balance all the way to the finish, but then it falls off a bit. With a longer finish this wine would be fantastic - 91pts

Clos Pepe - interesting color, black tea and maybe some pickles on the nose, bright mouthfeel, dark red fruits, nice stem inclusion, great finish of dark fruit and more black tea - 91pts

Ampelos - I’m getting some meatiness on the nose of this one, nice strawberry and cherry, thin mouthfeel, acid overpowering the fruit, some heat on the palate to the finish - 88pts

Cargasacchi - darker color of a light purple-red, very nice florals on the nose, a bit hot but quite pretty nose, dark red fruits on the palate, fantastic finish that builds and builds, and is actually the highlight of this wine, and quite impressive. My WOTF - 94pts

Mount Carmel - burnt sugar, cherry pie, nice stemminess on the nose, good mouthfeel with some weight but bright with acidity - 92pts

Melville - somewhat held back on the nose, but nice strawberry and florals come through, blas of sweetness hits you on the forepalate, good dark fruit flavor profile, nice tannic structure with dusty/drying tannins, strong finish - 92+ pts

What a nice coincidence. I have liked the Diatom Chards at times. Sometimes they are too ripe also. I think the Melville Terraces is becoming a real high light Pinot for the region.

Thanks for the report.

What great timing to have this kind of a tasting. Two fine people, Steve and Greg, making great wines under the Brewer Clifton label they are committed to style in their own passionate way [which is why they started this in the first place]. Having supported them as a barrel subscriber from the outset, I have been drinking their wines from the beginning and can say that they evolve and mature beautifully, across the board, pinots and chards. Recently, had a 97 Sweeney Canyon chard that was perfect with balance, depth and length and viable fruitiness that shined early on. Fortunately, the wax capsules they used initially have been improved upon and it does not require a blow torch to remove. My experience is that all of the BC wines age well. The other labels have their own identity and house style. Palmina is Steve and Chrystals Italian passion in a bottle and again, across the board wonderful wines drinking early on and with promises for longevity. These guys are winners.

Oh, and the Barbera Honea Vineyard (Palmina) is kick ass. Seriously complex.

Sounds awesome - BTW, the Wall Street Journal Weekend Journal section highlighted Santa Rita Hills chardonnay this weekend including Brewre Clifton with a picture of Steve Brewer. Saw the hardcopy, not online, so no link…

Thanks for posting this article. It is well written and right on with the facts and the personalities of the guys and their wines. This is the kind of wine critic writings I enjoy which offers more fact that hype and wordiness for the sake of impression and point scale ratings.