The documentary Somm 3's release received a lot of attention, much of it landing squarely on Domaine de la Côte, stewards of the wind-battered slope of the Sta. Rita Hills within Santa Barbara County. It's here where Pacific Ocean-influenced conditions lead us to what might just be the most marginal, Burgundian conditions in California.

Domaine de la Côte walks the walk when it comes to California viticulture. These are wines with intense concentration from small yields due, in part, to the pruning regimen and also to its extremely dense planting of 4,000 to 7,000 vines per acre. The soil is diatomaceous from a 25 million-year-old seabed that defines this wind-battered slope seven miles off the Pacific.

Raj and Sashi are well-versed in Burgundy domaines and their sites like no other producers in America. Their intention from day one has been to produce wines they want to drink. A large percentage of whole clusters are used here for fermentation and extraction levels are moderate, only intended to give regal framing and backbone to the wines still characterized by purity and transparency of site.

I'm inclined to portray this extreme hill as the Côte de Nuits compared to the more Côte de Beaune traits we find in Santa Barbara's inland terrain. Like Gevrey Chambertin and Morey-Saint-Denis, the Sta. Rita Hills have darker fruit expression, deeper structure, and to be blunt, a more fascinating depth and complexity. The juxtaposition between sweet and savory spices is simply unique to this setting.

DDLC's top cuvées show a fine-ness of tannins and delicacy that belies their underlying construction, one capable of transforming slowly over time. Tasting a bottle of 2011 La Côte upon release and, then, four years later mirrored the evolutionary track I only find with Burgundian Pinot Noir. Burgundy is the backbone of our selection, and when I turn our supporters toward California, this is the first destination for top-grade, terroir-driven Pinot Noir.

Bloom's Field is a southwest parcel on the larger slope. Monterey shale serves as the foundation here, but with a topsoil of clay that is lighter in color and texture as compared to other parcels. Heritage selections of Swan, Calera, and Mount Eden make up the vine material. The most open-knit of the trio of Pinot Noirs offered.

Memorious is immediately downslope from Bloom’s Field, bending gently to the southwest with its face to the Pacific Ocean. The vines rest on a bedrock of Monterey Shale covered by alluvial deposits, the heaviest soils of the domaine. Raj and Sashi planted this one acre of Pinot Noir seedlings in 2007, with which they aim to cultivate their own genetic selection.

La Côte is the most entrancing and refined of the domaine's single vineyards. It's been a favorite of mine since first pour many years ago. It hits a sweet spot where grace and intensity converge seamlessly. Sous le Chêne is also sourced from a special parcel located at the very top of La Côte.

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