So we may be back in Paso Robles, the hot home of big reds, but the Central Coast followed us (read Laetitia post). Tucked behind Cypher Winery, at the crossroads of the 46 and vineyard drive, hides Deovlet’s tasting room.
Ryan Deovlet (the o is silent) makes wine in a warehouse in San Louis Obispo. Inspired by farm to table coffee, he sources single vineyards throughout the Central Coast for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and some Cab and Merlot. The Deovlet tasting room sheens white with a marble countertop, surgical stainless, and buttoned servers.
We start with Chardonnay: Zotovich Family Vineyards in Sta. Rita Hills:
Zzzzziiiiiiinnggggg! Forget whatever Rombauer-tainted, butter bomb nightmares you have of Californian Chardonnay. Think Chablis in a warm year. The APPEARANCE looks a pale hay. AROMAS lead with lime, white pear, salinity, and a whiff of vanilla. The PALATE feels dry, with mouthwatering, medium plus acidity, and lean alcohol and body. FLAVORS taste briny like oyster shell braced by lime peal, white pear, pale oak, and apple that last a medium plus length. For $40, Zotovich Chard is very good quality (4 of 5) with years ahead of it, so we nab one.
Deovlet’s 2013 “Solomon Hills” Chardonnay comes a bit north in Santa Maria Valley. Energy and vibrancy shine again center stage here. Flavors tend toward slightly riper, deeper, softer tangerine backed again by lime, pear, and salinty. 15 months on the lees and in 10% new French oak lend it a nutty complexity. Their Solomon is very good (4 of 5) but lacks the linear focus of Zotovich.
What a pleasant surprise. However, Pinot Noir is Deovlet’s main medium. The Santa Maria Valley’s Bien Nacido 2013 arrives in our glasses all sexy and spiced with potpourri and ripe raspberry fruit. Medium acids and tannins stand it up, a slight mushroom and lead minerality flake it with interest, but this Bien Nacido is not serious stuff. It wants to snuggle (while whispering about architecture). It is very good (4 of 5), fruity and silky but might be more interesting in a few years ($55).
Back South to Sta. Rita Hills’ John Sebastiano Pinot Noir 2013, we find darker, denser fruits with more body. Think black cherry dusted with cinnamon, clove, and light tobacco. The quality seems good (3 of 5) but its youth hides future complexity ($48).
2013’s Santa Barbara County blends the above SMV and SRH AVAs into a smooth pleasure pot of Pinot. 15 months in 30% new French oak barely fazes the ripe, red fruit. We like the light toast and tannin that the oak adds, but pinot this ripe and clean, with such moderate acid, slips seamlessly past us. It is good (3 of 5) and we would drink tons of it without blinking ($40), if we could afford it.
Deovlet’s 2012 Sonny Boy mixes 60% Merlot with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara (Happy Canyon AVA). It ages for shy of two years all in French oak, 40% of which is new and toasty. Big, fruity, and smooth, warm blackberry and plum dominate aromas and flavors, supported by sliced black olive and a dusting of cocoa, tobacco, and tannin. It is good (3 of 5) ($40)
Deovlet avoids the oak trap with elan. Fruit thankfully leads all his wines. The only quibble is that his Pinots seem too perfect, too clean. I want to try them a decade from now. Maybe as they start fall apart they will show more complexity and the true nature of each vineyard.
His Chardonnay provided welcome relief though: tight, clean, and defiantly mineral, I wish more people went this direction. Great work.