2015 Happy Canyon Vineyards "Piocho" Santa Barbara County Bordeaux Blend (Elsewhere $30)

SKU #1427819 94 points Wine Enthusiast

 Aromas of black plum, olive and bittersweet chocolate show on the nose of this Merlot-led blend, but it is the underlying minerality of crushed rocks and turned earth that’s most compelling. The palate is smooth, with everything from oak and cocoa to rose buds, violets and black currants. The tannins are expertly polished and the density is ideal.  (7/2019)

K&L Notes

Winemaker's Notes: "The wine has an attractive and seductive nose of sugarplum, black cherry and red clay with hints of toast and charcoal. On the palate the wine is bright, fresh and savory with flavors of red plum, and raspberry. The finish is lovely and lingering full of fine tannins and a whisper of earthiness and spice. It is stunning to drink today and will deliciously pair well with grilled red meat. The wine will age beautifully for the next ten to fifteen years. 2015 was another year of extreme drought conditions. Bud break was in late March, early April. A much cooler then average May, along with highly windy conditions, resulted in low fruit with ultimate yields down 50% from average in our vineyards. Warm to hot summer conditions, and much less fruit on the vines created a harvest that was the earliest on record, beginning mid-August. The lower yields, hot weather, and early harvest resulted in tiny clusters of intensely colored, highly concentrated, flavorful grapes of incredible depth. The wine was fermented in small lots using hand-crafted winemaking techniques and matured for 22 months in a combination of new and seasoned, two year old, and neutral Taransaud French Oak Barrels. The wine was racked three times in barrel and bottled in July of 2017."

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By: Thomas Smith | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/3/2019 | Send Email
Happy Canyon is one of those hot-spots in California wine that seems to be in the news every other month these days--particularly for its Cabernet and Bordeaux varieties. The Happy Canyon Piocho is an exceptional example of what Happy Canyon is all about. Bright, and aromatic, black fruits with elements of charcoal and bell pepper--you’d be tempted to think big and flabby from something so far south in California, but it is almost the exact opposite. Well-structured with elegant fruit and darker earthier components, this is right up my alley. Wow. Great wine, extremely high quality for the price.

By: Blake Conklin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/28/2019 | Send Email
Being originally from the Napa/Sonoma area, I have to say, with living in LA, I'm excited just how close I am to the wine regions of Santa Barbara county, and a lot of the things I've been trying from that region have been pretty nothing short of excellent, including the Piocho from Happy Canyon Vineyards. It's refreshing to have a Merlot dominant Bordeaux style blend in our store, that's not only excellent quality, but an excellent price point. Black cherries, black currant, a little bit of spice, and a decent amount of tannins, this is definitely a bottle you shouldn't miss out on.

By: Kaj Stromer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/28/2019 | Send Email
The Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County is producing some of California’s finest high-quality Bordeaux style reds. Unlike the very cool growing regions of western Santa Barbara that favor Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the eastern end of the County is properly suited to Bordeaux varietals. The Piocho bottling from Happy Canyon Vineyards is a delightful five varietal blend. The wine is exceptionally well-balanced and elegant with an impressive array of red fruits and wood spice on the palate all rounding out with a long lingering finish. I’m particularly impressed with the finesse of this wine.

By: Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/27/2019 | Send Email
The nose of this wine is full of menthol, camphor, green olives and sweet earth and while it is a Bordeaux blend this wine reminds me of old school Sonoma Cabernet (pre-Global Warming). On the palate the wine shows a lush, broad and medium-full body carrying through the same savory flavors you sensed on the nose but there are tannins the frame the wine nicely, not harsh but enough to give a distinct focus and direction to the wine. If you’re looking for a sweetish, very ripe, chocolaty Cab this wine’s not for you, but if you are looking for a more food friendly, complex and still eminently drinkable wine I highly recommend this wine.

By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/23/2019 | Send Email
This wine is incredibly bright and punchy, showcasing fresh fruit and delineated minerality. I expected something heavier and darker fruited, but found this one medium-bodied and very expressive. I know many are shying away from Merlot-dominant wines these days, but Merlot may be one of the most food-friendly bold reds out there, as many Bordeauxs can prove. This one is definitely worth the purchase as you get a lot of wine for your dollar.
Top Value!

By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/22/2019 | Send Email
A screaming deal at our market low price. This rocking Bordeaux-style blend is made for Happy Canyon Vineyards by none other than legendary Santa Barbara County winemaker, Doug Margerum! Happy Canyon Vineyard is well known as one of the premier sites in the region and their pristine fruit is coveted by many of the area's best winemakers. This packs briary, brambly, deep red fruit, with crushed rock minerality, subtle cigar box, plum, bay laurel, and graphite. Medium-plus-bodied with great structure balancing the fruit. Unbelievable value for this end-of-vintage, hidden price deal. Don't miss it.
Top Value!

By: Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/16/2019 | Send Email
Getting 94 points from Wine Enthusiast, this Bordeaux blend from Cali mixes 56% Merlot, 22% Cab Sauv, 10% Cab Franc, 6% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot. The nose is floral and earthy, showing restrained dark fruit notes. There’s great structure to this wine with a foresty and peppery palate with fresh tart berries, plum, black cherries, and cocoa on the finish.

Additional Information:


Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the Médoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.

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.