Small Production, Big Taste: Dinner to Highlight Boutique LUTUM Label

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo

Winemaker Gavin Chanin
When entrepreneur and vintner Bill Price met winemaker Gavin Chanin a few years ago, he was impressed.  The man with a formidable perspective – Price has ownership in several high-profile Northern California vineyards and labels like Kistler and Three Sticks – saw promise in the UCLA grad who’d trained in Santa Barbara with the likes of Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist.  Of course, so had Forbes, which had already put the founder of Chanin Wine Company to its “30 Under 30” list, and Food & Wine Magazine, which had already named him a Winemaker of the Year.  I included Chanin in my own “Top 10 Santa Barbara Winemakers Under 35” feature two years ago.
Price and Chanin would set off on an experiment – a label to focus on single-vineyard, small-production pinot noir and chardonnay made from stellar California vineyards.
The result was LUTUM – the word means “soil” in Latin.  I got to taste some of these wines for the first time a few weeks ago at Wine + Beer, the wine lover’s watering hole inside the Santa Barbara Public Market.  This has quickly become one of my favorite wine shops in town for its variety of both local and international labels, its fair pricing and the focused consumer events that it hosts regularly.
At this one, the two vineyards in the spotlight are Santa Barbara County landmarks: Sanford & Benedict and La Rinconada.  Both lay in the coveted Sta. Rita Hills growing area, near Lompoc, and both were planted by pioneer Richard Sanford (Sanford & Benedict in 1971, La Rinconada in 1995).  But each vineyard, as exhibited through the LUTUM wines, is unique.
The 2012 Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay exhibits a classic golden hue and refreshing flavors of apple and tropical fruits.  The mouth feel is luscious – a hint of the 18 months this wine spent in 25% new French oak – and the finish is clean.
The 2012 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir has a lively tart quality on the palate that sings of cranberries and cherries.  There’s wonderful structure to this wine and the brilliant acidity gives it solid aging potential.
The 2012 La Rinconada Pinot Noir, by contrast, is darker and more dense.  Red fruit flavors and rounded tannins give this wine an elegant, balanced richness.
For LUTUM, Chanin also sources locally from La Encantada Vineyard, another Sta. Rita Hills planting by Sanford, and Bien Nacido, the storied vineyard planted in the Santa Maria Valley by the Miller family in 1973.  Sonoma sources include the celebrated Durrell and Gap’s Crown Vineyards, both owned by Price.
Consumers get their next chance to taste through the LUTUM wines this Saturday, June 6th, at 6pm, when Chanin joins Executive Chef Derek Simcik of Outpost Restaurant at the Goodland Hotel for a five-course dinner.  This intimate meal – only 32 seats are available – will take place inside The Kitchen at the Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 W. Victoria Street, downtown, and is priced at $95.  Menu items include a squab entrĂ©e served with wild forage mushrooms, potatoes and blackberries and paired with the 2012 Durell Vineyard pinot.
Reservations are required: 805-770-7702.
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