28 Dec Santa Barbara and Los Olivos part 2
We headed up the street again to Saarloos and Sons, only to find them closed on this weekday just before the holidays. So…we took a leisurely walk around the town to see what else might be open. We ended up coming full circle and stopping into Carhartt which is directly across the street from Saarloos and Sons. Known as the “worlds smallest tasting room” they weren’t kidding! This tiny tasting room had a couple at the counter, a big group on the back patio and us at the end of the bar squeezing in. None the less Robin welcomed us immediately to the tasting room and got us set up. The group on the back patio Robin told us were local kids back from College and Afganistan. They came in looking for Chase which is the owner’s son, and then she realized they were really looking for her son, whose name is also Chase. He was not yet home from college. They asked us to take a photo of them with Robin in front of the tasting room. When they were gone Robin invited us to head into the back patio and be comfortable in the barrel chairs and she would bring us our tastings.
The barrel chairs were VERY comfortable and the wines..sublime. The garden patio is beautiful. The tiny tasting room filled up and another couple joined us on the patio. All of the wines here were extremely nuanced and layered and many were surprising. The 2010 Savignon Blanc from the Faith Vineyard at Carhartt has the expected bright grapefruit on the nose, but then is much smoother on the palate and slightly sweeter than you would expect. The 2010 Pinot Noir from River Bench Vineyard….okay, we tasted several styles of Pinot Noir on this trip and I love the Bien Nacido Pinots that we tasted in Paso, but this, this is a completely different animal. I am in love. Elegant, sophisticated it has lavender and forest floor on the nose, the mouth is butter and oak and lavender. It is light in the mouth but sooooo complex! This is a stunner. The 2009 Estate Merlot from Rancho Santa Ynez was deep with licorice & tobacco. The mouth feel was big at the top and then ends clean making it the perfect food wine. Finally the 2009 Fourplay is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot (a Meritage minus 1). With a nose of dark berries, cedar and toasty oak this is balanced and beautiful. I will admit that we had fallen in love with the place the people and the wines, and without a second thought we joined the wine club here. Before leaving Robin told me that Pete would call me the next day to welcome me to the wine club. He handles all the wine club stuff. She also gave me a Carhartt business card, which has Mike Carhartt’s cell phone number on it in case we need anything. This is truly a family run business. Mike grew up raising cattle here and then turned the cattle farm into a vineyard. Bill from Foxen encouraged them to make their own wine. He had been buying their Merlot grapes for that great Merlot that I mentioned yesterday. Mike’s wife Brook does the lab work creating the wines and their son Chase is currently going to Cal Poly studying Vinticulture and Enology, is home in the summer to assist in the vineyard. All the grapes are manually basket pressed in small batches. I look forward to finding a way to get out one of their pick up parties or the annual dinner that is held for members at the Ranch.
Okay, so that would be a pretty perfect end to the day, but…Matty’s Tavern was suggested to us for dinner and it was just up the street. When we get there I find that this is actually Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern. The building was originally built as a stagecoach stop then turned into a restaurant and hotel. But the hotel always came first. Inside it is warm and welcome with lit fireplaces everywhere. We had a stunning dinner that was finished with a Gingerbread bread pudding that was spectacular. No trip to this area should miss dinner here. It was a perfect end to our last day of vacation.