SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS
SCHAEFER ON WINE by Dennis Schaefer
November 12, 2015
Mosby: Old guys (sometimes) rule
Vintner Bill Mosby, of Mosby Winery and Vineyard in Buellton, has been making wine since the 1970s. At 84, he’s finishing up his 35th harvest, still devoted to helping popularize little known Italian varieties in California. He makes Steve Clifton, at Palmina, seem like just a young whippersnapper by comparison. The old guy is still full of fire and brimstone, and his wines, some from forty year old vines (ancient by Santa Barbara County standards), can stand up to Italian wines in a blind tasting because they’re balanced, relatively low in alcohol and taste good with food. Here are four of the more obscure varieties Mr. Mosby produces, ones that that are worth discovering and enjoying at the daily dining table.
*Mosby Traminer, Santa Barbara County 2014 ($20): Traminer is thought to have originated in one of the northern most provinces in Italy and is loosely related to what we know as gewurztraminer. And indeed, this white is not very gewurtz like in the nose (as you find in nearby Alsace) though there is a bit of petrol that is not in any way obnoxious, along with rather liltingly pleasant aromas of lichee nut, citrus and a hint of ginger. It’s light on its feet, displays good acidity and flavors of citrus, lanolin, orange peel and ginger. An unlikely combo but it works because it has a certain elegance and simplicity to it that makes it appealing.
*Mosby Cortese, Santa Barbara County 2013 ($18): Another Italian white wine grape that is sparsely planted in California, this cortese has a nose that is crisp and clean with a purity of aromas that include citrus, lime zest and florals. Light bodied and sleek, the mouth entry is clean and engaging with flavors of kumquat, quinine and lime. Not aggressive, say like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. Its quiet demeanor and distinct personality make it perfect for antipasto and shellfish.
*Mosby Dolcetto, Santa Barbara County 2012 ($28): Dolcetto means “little sweet one” in Italian and traditionally this is the red wine of the vintage you would drink first while all its big brothers were aging. It’s a wine that almost always accessible upon release and this Mosby version is very tasty. It shows cherry and black raspberry on the nose along with red plum and olallieberry. Flavor-wise there’s plenty to like: red cherry, pomegranate and red twizzler licorice plus a nice, soft underlay of almond and vanilla that embraces the fruit, as well as a just a hint of savoriness with green herbs in the background. Light, bright, juicy and so easy to drink, this is an everyday quaffer elevated to the next level.
*Mosby Sagrantino, Santa Barbara County 2012 ($32):Sagrantino is another not so well known red, indigenous to Montefalco in Italy’s Umbria region. Very little is imported here so it’s surprising to see it on Mr. Mosby’s tasting menu. Cherry, damson plum and wet earth come through on the nose as well as cranberry and pomegranate. Luxardo cherry—the most decadent cocktail cherry in syrup—leads the flavor parade, deep and intense, along with a big assist from pomegranate, vanilla bean yogurt and orange peel with a slight but lingering impression of marjoram and thyme. Not at all syrupy but rather bold though seemingly light hearted. Firm tannins, coupled with great acidity, make this a mouth watering wine for cheese and hearty meat dishes.
Wine expert Dennis Schaefer’s column appears every other week in the Food section. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org