This is not good wine. I mean–I tried to wait until this post was over to say that in a kinder manner, but it is no use. I just do not like this wine. Dark, grainy garnet with clear edges. SEARING alcohol nose. Seriously, just melting AL. Either this is 15-7 or a severely unbalanced 14-5.
Sweet cut grass with a little dog-poop and dense dark half-rotting cherries fill the nose. Burnt rubber, electrical fire and wet loam. ALL of the items I just mentioned are WONDERFUL wine nuances in the right doses. A huge dirty limp celery with nutmeg sprinkled on it. Incredible minerality. And still more alcohol. Turns out it’s only 14-7. OMG did I just say “only”?
This is the third or fourth Happy Canyon AVA wine I have had recently which was sub-par. Here’s the interesting thing about human nature: A new AVA gets trotted out like Happy Canyon or Ballard Canyon and FIRST of all: We’ve all been drinking these wines for DECADES with a Santa Ynez Valley or Santa Barbara County label and never thought anything about it. I have 05’s and 06’s and 99’s and beyond in my cellar from Happy Canyon which are wonderful but no mention of it on the label. Secondly, trotting something out with a name like Happy Canyon just gives us this ethereal tryptophan-ridden expectation. It is almost BETTER than the tasting-room lady handing that glass of Reserve Mourvedre across the counter and telling you you are going to taste chocolate and leather and a bit of spice with ripe strawberry and GODDAMMNIT: Guess what! You taste chocolate and leather and a bit of spice and ripe strawberry. How do they DO that?!!?!? The other part is: It is so easy to see a new–really high-quality–appellation like Happy or Ballard and just assume because this area is so special and so many high-quality ambassadors for the area were visible in the forming of it–they all must be great wines! Granted, Happy Canyon has 5 or 6 big names which produce AMAZING quality wine year after year. But there is a lot of farming in Happy Canyon, and there are probably 30+ labels originating from that fruit. They are not all wonderful. Drinkable, yes–even enjoyable. But a search through this blog will reveal several dogs.
This is the best of the dogs. One could convince oneself this is good wine. One could say all the very powerful agents working in the bouquet are all positive nuances. One could feel the alcohol and call it “Huge”. And then you taste it. Fat and glycerol-ridden, but instantaneously massively acidic and harsh bitter tannin rounding things out into an over-ripe finish. This is just unbalanced wine. This is not good wine.
2008 THREE SAINTS Cabernet Sauvignon Happy Canyon Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 14.7