What to do with a wine with only 99 cases?
Well, this one I’m recommending.
It’s the 2004 Native 9 Santa Maria Valley Rancho Ontiveros Vineyards Pinot Noir, and it’s a smooth, rich, supple charmer with sassafras and black cherry fruit that retails for $48.
Why bother tasting this wine, or writing about it? I don’t spend much time on wines with such tiny production, and at 99 cases, that’s about four barrels' worth. Usually I prefer to review wines with at least 500 cases and decent distribution.
But there are days when I do sample a few small-production wines, especially with Pinot Noir, in hopes of coming across a gem. And there are readers who are interested in these rarities.
This wine is outstanding, it comes from a well-regarded vineyard and there’s a story behind it. Plus, this is one way to use our Web site and mention a wine that would otherwise not get a published review.
It’s the work of James Rey Ontiveros, who represents the ninth generation of the Ontiveros family to reside in Santa Barbara County.
The grapes have gone into single-vineyard wines made by Loring and A.P. Vin.
So with a choice of recommending it or not, I’ve opted for a vote of "yes."