Fess Parker Winery
2006 Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Rio Vista Vineyard
California: Santa Barbara County: Sta. Rita Hills
What We Say
WINE STEAL ALERT:
Do not miss out on today’s incredible wine offering! You won’t find a better Pinot Noir for the price. Today’s wine is just fantastic, and when our friends at Fess Parker Winery offered us a very special Spies-only price, we passed the savings along to you, dear Operative.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Santa Barbara Pinot, from one of the best vintages in a decade is a wine of exceptional character. If you love great Pinot Noir, this one belongs in your collection.
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Mission Codename: The river is within us
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Fess Parker Winery, and procure stellar Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir at a stunning price – for our Fess-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fess Parker Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir – Sta Rita Hills
Winemaker: Blair Fox
Backgrounder: Today we return to our special friends at the Fess Parker Winery in Santa Barbara. Because of our close relationship with the winery, we were able to secure today’s wine at a spies-only price – which we pass right along to you, our loyal Operatives.
Today’s Rio Vista Pinot Noir has garnered top awards and we love the wine. Read Agent Red’s full tasting notes and his interview with winemaker, Blair Fox, below.
California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara and San Luis Obisbo County has become one of the state’s premier regions for Pinot Noir. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in Pinot of exceptional purity.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Reminiscent of light red cherry juice, the wine shows a deeper red at the core, and a fine band of pink at its edges. After swirling, round after round of chubby, wine-stained tears fall down the edge of the glass.
Smell – Led by black cherry and cranberry, this wine also shows of a myriad of follow-on aromas, including mixed red flowers, Bing cherry, strawberry, spice, tobacco leaf and dusty bramble.
Feel – Plush and vibrant, this wine begins full and round on entry. Soon after, fine-grained tannins take hold, adding a pepper-spiced dryness that spreads its way around the palate.
Taste – Bold and brightly delicious, with serious notes of black cherry, ripe blackberry, young strawberry and subtle raspberry. These are intertwined with subtle cigar box, black tea, black pepper and truffle.
Finish – Long and evolving, starting with bright fruit of cherry and raspberry. These give way, gradually, to delicious earthen flavors, soft spice and black pepper.
Conclusion – Right out of the bottle, this wine is delicious! Decant for 30 minutes or more and it bursts with more flavor and deeper aromatics. Santa Barbara Pinot Noir is something very special, and Blair Fox’s rendition for Fess Parker is the best we have sampled to date. Today’s wine is a fantastic Pinot Noir from any region and by any standards. Today’s price makes it a wine that should certainly not be missed. Enjoy this very special Pinot Noir on its own, or with grilled chicken with a light-style BBQ sauce.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Blair Fox
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/74
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Barbara, CA
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Enologist for Fess Parker Winery ’99, Winemaker Sunstone Winery 99-02, Consultant winemaker fess Parker Winery 02, Vintage Winemaker- Haselgrove Winery- McLaren Vale South Australia 03, Associate Winemaker in charge of the Rhone Varietal programs at Fess Parker 03-05, Head Winemaker for Fess Parker Winery 05-present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I spend a lot of time in the vineyard because I feel that wines are truly made in the vineyard. I try to show the different qualities of the different vineyards and create wines with distinct varietal character.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: I have always been particularly fond of Syrah.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Traveling throughout the Rhone Valley in France and tasting some of the best examples of Syrah and other Rhone varietals the world has to offer.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I feel privileged to work with some of the best vineyards and fruit in Santa Barbara County.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Blair. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BLAIR: Thank you for showing my wine today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BLAIR: My parents were always traveling the globe and bringing home wines to be drunk around the dinner table. I was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor but was lured into the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
BLAIR: I really enjoyed the viticulture side of the program, but then fell in love with the enology courses and being able to see the conversion of grapes to a final wine.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
BLAIR: I feel the best wines are made in the vineyard. You have to be diligent with your vineyard practices to grow grapes worthy of making great wine. It is all about fruit quality, canopy management and managing your yields to produce the most exciting wines possible.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BLAIR: I am impressed by all great wines made around the world. I have gained experience making wines in two different hemispheres and like a sponge have absorbed as much knowledge from every winemaker I have ever worked with.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
BLAIR: This will be my 14th vintage.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BLAIR: I make wines to be enjoyed by all. At Fess Parker Winery we specialize in the production of Burgundian and Rhone Varietal wines. I create these wines to be balanced with intense fruit character, rich mouthfeel and beautiful aromatics.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Santa Barbara so special?
BLAIR: Santa Barbara is a very unique region. We have very cool areas such as the Santa Rita Hills, which is the ultimate place to grow high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and we have the more interior Santa Ynez Valley where some of the most exciting Rhone varietals in the world are grown.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BLAIR: Currently we are finishing up bottling & preparing for harvest.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
BLAIR: Rio Vista Vineyard is located along the Santa Rosa Road Corridor of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The fruit of this small, family-owned vineyard is coveted for its varital character and typicity. The floral component in the aromatics of this wine calls to mind something truly romantic; there are nuances of rose petals and geranium apparent. On the mouth, it is complex and inviting. By turns, fruit-forward, spicy and minerally, this wines flavor profile is ever-changing in the wine glass, and gets more interesting as it evolves over time. Look for dried herbs, ocean brine and ripe Bing cherries on the mouth.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BLAIR: Grilled Salmon
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
BLAIR: I am very casual about my approach to wine. I feel wines are best drunk with food, but are also great as an aperitif or after dinner. I feel you should drink what you enjoy regardless of price or region. It is fun to be adventurous with wine and see what else is out there.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
BLAIR: I love Syrah and would choose something like an old Grange from Penfolds or Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fess Parker Winery in Santa Barbara’s famous Foxen Canyon can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points & Cellar Selection – Wine Enthusiast
88 Points – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
About This Wine:
The Rio Vista Vineyard is located along the Santa Rosa Road corridor of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The fruit of this small, family-owned vineyard is coveted for its varital character and typicity. The floral component in the aromatics of this wine calls to mind something truly romantic; there are nuances of rose petals and geranium apparent. On the mouth, it is complex and inviting. By turns, fruit-forward, spicy and minerally, this wine’s flavor profile is ever-changing in the wine glass, and gets more interesting as it evolves over time. Look for dried herbs, ocean brine and ripe Bing cherries on the mouth. Because it does benefit noticeably from decanting, please consider doing so at least 2 hours prior to serving.
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).
VINEYARD SOURCE: 100% Rio Vista Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County
COMPOSITION: 100% Pinot Noir
BARREL AGING: 15 Months in 50% New French Oak
COOPERAGE: Franois Frerer, Boutes & Ermitage
HARVEST DATE: October 12TH
BLOCK: 5 &7
CLONE: 2A & 667
PRODUCTION: 151 Cases