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2013 Wild Horse "Cheval Sauvage" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir (Elsewhere $55+)

SKU #1376637 93 points Wine Enthusiast

 Mulberry, cherry, iron, raw beef and roasted pork aromas make for a gamy entry to this bottling, which also shows bay leaf and sage on the nose. Those sagebrush qualities are strong on the palate, which is reminiscent of an Asian-spiced meat dish, with rhubarb and pomegranate lending freshness. (MK)  (12/2017)

92 points Wine Spectator

 A refined red, with a silky mouthfeel and flavors of cherry, plum tart and dried currant that are creamy and plush. The spicy finish is pure-tasting and filled with lively minerality. Drink now through 2022. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. (KM)  (2/2018)

K&L Notes

Founded in 1981 by Ken Volk, Wild Horse produces a range of red and white wines from popular Californian grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier. Cheval Sauvage, meaning wild horse in French, is the estate's top wine. Winery note: "In classic Cheval style, this wine is terroir driven with earthy-spicy aromas and notes of strawberry, rhubarb, and dark cherry that are pleasing to the senses. The palate opens with minerality and earth. The mid-palate is elegantly structured and balanced with flavors of bright red fruit and spice. The finish is long and soft with spicy red fruit and hints of vanilla and smoke. Sourced from two top vineyards in Santa Maria Valley: Garey and Rancho Real."

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Price: $24.99
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Staff Image By: Christina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/9/2018 | Send Email
This Pinot is such an incredible value! Pressed from fruit cultivated in two of Santa Barbara County's finest vineyards for Pinot Noir, Gary's and Murmur, this wine shines in the manner of an "old school" expression of Pinot, one that might be three times the price. Upon first whiff, spice notes bloom from the glass: white and black pepper and underbrush supported by more sappy fruit aromas of ripe raspberry and black cherry. The palate is expansive and broad, but flooded with natural acidity inherent in the fruit, and finishes with soft, fine tannins.

Staff Image By: Stephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/6/2018 | Send Email
When our domestic wine buyer approached us with this wine, I was blown away by how approachable and balanced it was. Then when we were told our pricing and then the winery price of $65. What?! This is a fantastic top tier Pinot Noir from Wild Horse, a well established winery started by central coast winemaker Kenneth Volk. The Cheval Sauvage is from Wild Horse's top vineyards in Santa Maria Valley, and has a red-fruited profile, hints of earth and spice with an unbelievably elegant, silky texture. This is a killer deal you don't want to miss.

Staff Image By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/30/2018 | Send Email
There's a lot to love about this top bottling from Wild Horse. As one of the founding wineries of Santa Maria Valley, this release represents the very best fruit from their top two vineyards. Half the fruit comes from Garey Vineyard that sits right next to it's more famous neighbor Bien Nacido. The other half is from Rancho Real (aka Murmur Vineyard) which is quickly becoming known as one of the top sites in the region and sits next door to the iconic Soloman Hills vineyard. Selection of this wine is the creme de la creme of barrels blended as the winemaker's ultimate expression of Santa Maria Valley in a given vintage. The winery sells this top tier bottling at $65. A true expression of cool climate Pinot Noir, wild brambly fruit, dusty dark cherry, dried herbs, forest floor and truffle. The palate is wonderfully elegant and silky; the time in bottle has allowed the tannins to soften and meld into something beautiful textural and soft. Whilst the primary fruit is still shinning the wine is just hitting its stride with more complex secondary characters and subtle nuances beginning to show. This price is just crazy good. You have to taste this to believe it...but don't hesitate...this was a take-all deal...when it's gone it's gone.

Staff Image By: Ralph Sands | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/30/2018 | Send Email
I first tasted at Wild Horse in 1988 with the founder and winemaker Ken Volk. We must have tasted 30 barrels that morning and I brought the wine in direct to K&L at that time. His passion for Pinot and the quality of his early wines solidified the reputation of the Central Coasts as a source for fine Pinot Noir. The 2013 Cheval Sauvage is a pure expression of PN and true to the Wild Horse style; never overdone or over extracted and always tasty! The wine has an expansive nose of lovely, fresh Pinot fruit, with a touch of earth and soft spice. On the palate it features a silky, elegant touch of black fruit with hints of development. The wine is in a perfect spot to drink over the holiday season and is an absolute steal at this price. Bravo Wild Horse!
Drink from 2018 to 2022

Additional Information:


Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.5