By Stef Schwalb
Searching for a Cab or Pinot Noir from Cali? Well, not all areas are the same. So we’re focusing this month on one popular region – the Central Coast – to get an idea of what we can expect. We’re doing this with the help of winemaker David Hopkins of Bridlewood Winery, after he inspired us with a sampling of some of his delicious selections at a recent tasting.
When searching for Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from the Central Coast, it’s good to keep in mind what traits the area is known for. “The great thing about the Central Coast is its varied selection that provides winemakers, like me, with countless options,” David says. “Looking at some of the major regions for Pinot Noir in the Central Coast, the Santa Lucia Highlands provide big, robust grapes with rich cherry characteristics. Closer to home in the Santa Ynez Valley and San Luis Obispo, the fruit tends to be more floral and delicate. The top location for Cabernet Sauvignon in the Central Coast is Paso Robles, which is the hottest of all sub-regions. Here, the warmer temperatures are tempered by cool nights from the consistent coastal influence, allowing a balance of red fruit and a full body that is rarely attained in any other California region.”
Bridlewood hails from the Santa Ynez Valley, and due to its location, the vineyard experiences a longer growing season. David and his team use this to their advantage when crafting their wines. “From the vineyard to the winery, our team takes a hands-on approach every step of the way. This method of working closely with the grapes grants us the opportunity to know right when to pick. Our unique microclimate of intense sunlight and cooling maritime breezes get our Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon to optimal ripeness year after year,” David explains. “Because of our lengthy growing season – often regarded as the longest in the state – our grapes are afforded an extended hang time, which consistently ensures intense flavor development and the highest quality. We’re never forced to pick early because of weather or a shorter growing season. Back at the winery, we craft wines that are unique and adventurous, but still approachable, just like the Central Coast. To make a great classic table wine, I stress the importance of the vineyard, allowing the grapes to have the perfect balance of aromas, flavors, texture, acid, tannin, and alcohol.”
And speaking of a perfect balance, what foods pair best with these beauties? “I like to make wines that balance the acids with the tannins, varietally correct, and taste great with food. With Bridlewood Monterey County Pinot Noir, I’d pair a grilled quail or duck. With our Bridlewood Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, I would probably pair a big, juicy steak rubbed with sea salt, rosemary, and pepper cooked over a red oak fire so hot it singes your eyebrows.” For more information on Bridlewood Winery and their selections, visit http://www.bridlewoodwines.com.