Vineyards thrive all over California. North, South, East, West, there are far more wine regions than the average consumer is aware of. Humboldt, El Dorado, Temecula… Malibu?
When I hear Malibu, I think of surfing, especially this time of year when Southern California is graced with frequently large swells from the Southern Hemisphere. Malibu’s legendary point break is one of the most famous (and crowded) in the state. But take a trek to higher inland ground, and, sure enough, there are grapevines.
I recently tasted my first wine from the Malibu Coast American Viticultural Area, and was really impressed. It hails from Malibu’s Dolin Estate, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean near the Pacific Coast highway. Elliott and Lynn Dolin decided to plant a small vineyard in the backyard of their Malibu home in 2006. This estate Chardonnay apparently turned out quite well, and Dolin Estate has been expanding since.
With Central Coast winemaker Kirby Anderson in the cellar, Dolin Estate also produces a Bordeaux-style blend from a site in Newton Canyon, four miles from the coast and 1,450 feet in elevation. There aren’t too many grapes around here, so Dolin also sources Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some well-known Central Coast vineyards.
The wine I tasted is called the Blue Note, and it is killer. Elliott Dolin was a session bassist for jazz bands, so this wine (a Right Bank Bordeaux-inspired blend) pays homage to the iconic NYC jazz club, the Blue Note. Elliott also has plans for a Left Bank-inspired blend named after the West Coast club, The Troubadour.
The wines are available in some local bars and restaurants, local retailers, and online.
Below are my notes on two Dolin Estate wines I tasted recently.
2014 Dolin Estate Chardonnay Bien Nacido - California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
Light yellow color. Aromas of lemon curd, apricot, melted butter, graham cracker. Full-bodied with pleasant creaminess and fresh acidity. Rich but pure and vibrant with lime, apricot, bruised apple, richer elements of toasted nuts, lemon curd and honey mix well with sea salt and chalk dust. Packed with flavor, delicious but so lively. Fermented in 1/3 new French oak, 100% maloactic fermentation, aged 13 months in oak. (90 points)
2012 Dolin Estate The Blue Note - California, South Coast, Malibu
Light purple color. Awesome aromas of black cherries, raspberry jam, roasted fig, coffee, candied pecans. Lovely balance on the palate with bold texture, velvety tannins, moderate acidity keeps it fresh. Tart plum, blackberry, the fruit is loaded with coffee, charcoal, tar, cedar and cola. This was an eye-opening wine for me in the sense that it was absolutely delicious, showed solid balance, lots of depth, and it’s the first wine from this area I’ve tasted. A blend of 44% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, aged 21 months in French oak. The vineyard sits 1,450 feet above the Malibu coast. Intriguing and special stuff. (91 points)