Next week I'll blind-taste wines from Santa Barbara County that will be sold as futures via Wine Cask, the Santa Barbara retailer. This is an annual affair that’s well-organized, with scores of wines for sale, including some exotic and rare cuvées.
The purpose of my tasting is twofold: one is to take a look at the new wines, mostly reds, with an emphasis on Pinot Noir, Syrah and Rhône-style blends. The second is to recommend wines that I’d consider buying as futures, which is the system in which you pay in advance of the wine’s release to secure an allotment.
I’ve requested some 60 wines and expect that perhaps 40 will be submitted. The main reason for focusing on the reds, and not whites, is these are often the best and hardest-to-secure wines from this appellation. I don’t recommend buying whites as futures, because in most instances the wines are usually a little easier to come by and it’s better to judge them as finished wines, not barrel samples.
We contact the individual wineries to request their wine samples and they draw a barrel sample, or make a blend and ship it to our office in Napa. That means that the winemakers themselves choose whatever samples we receive. For the most part I’ve been pleased by the past submissions, as the wines have more or less been true to what is eventually bottled and reviewed. Some winemakers choose not to submit wines. Reasons range from the reviewer, to wines still undergoing malolactic, to wines that don’t have final blends.
The best reason to buy futures is to lock in some of the better and rarer wines. Future prices are typically $5 to $7 a bottle below anticipated retail prices.
You can also attend the Wine Cask barrel tasting and find out more at its website, www.winecask.com.
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