The Wines From Palmina

To borrow a phrase from my good friend Mendel, Palmina wines are for people who are interested in Italian varietals from California but do not necessarily want Cal-Ital wines. The 2011 Dolcetto from Palmina is nothing short of delicious and is an authentic expression of the grape. The punched up berry fruit, soft tannins and succulent acidity which are present in the 2011 Palmina Dolcetto are all elements one demands from high quality Piedmontese Dolcettos. The effusive aromatics hint at things to come. The flavors on the palate are stunning – rich, tangy raspberry flavors that remind me of the soft-center fillings of European hard candies. With all that fruit, you might be concerned with the finish, but no need to because there exists a freshness and vibrancy that culminates into a lively, dry finish. It wouldn’t take much effort to drain a bottle before the pizza gets delivered.

Steve Clifton, of Brewer-Clifton fame, has been playing around with Italian varietals grown in Santa Barbara County since 1995. Well, he’s not playing around anymore! I believe, and this is especially true for the last couple of vintages, that the wines from Palmina are spot-on and, again I’ll use this term, authentic expressions of Italian varietals. Their Dolcetto, which can be thought of as Palmina’s entry-level red wine, has commendable depth and personality. I wouldn’t feel cheated out if I were served this rather than a comparably priced Dolcetto from Piedmonte. In fact, I may even prefer it…honestly. The 2011 Dolcetto captures the sun-ripe fruit of south coast grapes without sacrificing balance and attack. Sixteen years experience is evident in Steve’s ability to pick just at the right time and in his confidence to back off in the cellar, allowing the grapes to express themselves as naturally as possible. 
At the conclusion of a tasting appointment, I might ask to have a sample of wine poured into a vial so that I can later get to know it better in the comfort of my home without the distractions of work; nothing like relaxing on a comfy chair with a sample of wine to really get a hold on it. I was so taken with the 2011 Dolcetto at the shop, I felt I just had to take a sample home to examine it further. That evening, I poured my sample into a glass and was about to sit down when my husband, who normally doesn’t share in my imbibing on a weeknight, asked to take a sip. I obliged, giving him the glass, and proceeded to sit down. Reaching back for the glass, low and behold, he had drained it! “Hey”, I said. “That was my sample!” He looked at me with doe-eyed innocence and said, “It’s really good. Don’t you have a bottle opened?” And there I had my confirmation: the 2011 Dolcetto is indeed delicious. I promptly placed an order via my smart phone.

I think that a lot of the intimidation surrounding wine is the idea that only the very top echelon (expensive) wines are good and therefore enjoyable, when in truth this is just rubbish. The good news is that a lot of fabulous and affordable wine is being made from all corners of the world.For well under $20, the 2011 Palmina Dolcetto will out-deliver on quality and flavor, not to mention its ideal pairing with pizza and pasta – so yummy! If you haven’t done so already, it is time to take notice of Palmina, the wines are worth everyone’s consideration. As an added bonus, to accompany the red Dolcetto, we have in stock their white 2011 Arneis; also not to be missed. —Anya Balistreri 

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Santa Barbara County

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