Three Wineries, Three Vintages, One Vineyard

By chance we accumulated three bottles of Pinot Noir from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. Each was from a different winemaker and was a different vintage. 

We knew we had to host a dinner party to find out which one was the best.


About Bien Nacido

The vineyard is situated in the Santa Maria Valley, near Santa Barbara. It grows cool climate grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. Much of their grapes are sold to wineries throughout California, so it’s not uncommon to see “Bien Nacido Vineyard” on someone else’s bottle. (You can see a partial client list here.)


The Wines

We started with a bottle of 2012 Steele Pinot Blanc. This wine was from, you guessed it, Bien Nacido Vineyard!

This is the one wine at the party that wasn’t collected accidentally. Sally found it through a web search. We felt fairly confident in the purchase since we’ve had some good Steele wines in the past.

Next, we moved to our three Pinot Noirs. They were served blind side-by-side so our guests could discuss them without any biases. 

Here’s the line-up:

  • 2007 Anglim Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2008 Wild Horse “Unbridled” Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Foxen Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir

It was fun to look back on how these bottles landed in our collection. We acquired the Anglim and Wild Horse on our first visit to Paso Robles in 2011. Foxen was discovered during our visit to the Santa Ynez valley in 2012. 

The Meal

Sally created a menu that was perfect to enjoy with Pinot on a summer evening.

First Course: Mixed green salad with caramelized pancetta, fennel, and red wine vinaigrette.

Second Course: Three cheeses. Ossau-iraty (sheep), mellage (cow, goat, and sheep), and eden (cow).

Third Course: Roasted herb chicken, bourbon sausage, bacon sausage, wild mushroom rice, and coriander rainbow carrots.

Dessert: Merlot-poached figs with vanilla ice cream. (The merlot was not from the Bien Nacido Vineyard.)

The Winner

It was fun tasting wine that had so much in common, but there was one clear winner. With five first place votes, the Wild Horse took the crown.

It had a wonderful smell of earth and dark cherry on the nose. Those flavors came across on the palate and continued for a velvety finish. 

The other wines were very good as well.

The Foxen had similar characteristics as the Wild Horse, but didn’t have nearly the nose or the earthiness. The Anglim was the most different of the group, but it developed similar characteristics after the bottle had been open for three hours.

The wine party was a lot of fun. We enjoyed sharing the bottles with our friends and discussing what we liked about each wine. And, the meal Sally made to go with it was delicious.

I wonder what we’ll do for our next wine party?

Posted on July 3, 2014 and filed under Tasting Experiences.