Carl Kanowsky: The judgement of Santa Clarita


Had the Hansens and Poulins over for a wine tasting on Friday night.

Ed and June Poulin and Jim and Pat Hansen have joined us at numerous wine festivals. They’ve been able to taste some high-quality Vino and have developed some discriminating palates. They’re also a kick to drink with. Ed and June are real estate brokers and developers here in Santa Clarita. Pat Hansen works in real estate in the San Fernando Valley and Jim Hansen repairs Gulfstream Jets.

The evening focused on comparing two whites with each other and two reds with each other. We began with sipping some surprisingly delicious Gruet sparkling wine from that champagne capital known as New Mexico. I had had one bottle before and it had a little bit of a funky taste. The second bottle, however, had none of that and was actually quite delicious.

We then moved into the comparison of the two white wines, the 2014 Conundrum White and Talley’s 2013 Chardonnay.  The Conundrum sells for about $25 and the Talley about $35. The Conundrum is identified just as being California white wine. None of the varietals used are identified nor are the AVAs.  All you know is that it’s white and comes from California. The Talley comes from their own fruit in Arroyo Grande, near Pismo Beach.

Talley has been a remarkably reliable producer of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  This was my first experience with Conundrum. Surprisingly, the Conundrum won the competition. But it was close.  Pat found the Conundrum to be fruity with a great finish and very smooth and effervescent. She really liked it.  Ed felt much the same, including that he tasted flavors of both nutmeg and apricot. Terry preferred the Talley, commenting that she like the grassy, citrusy flavors.  I came down in the middle.  I think they were both quite tasty and would gladly consume either one of them again.

The second heat set the 2007 Chateau St. Michelle Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon against the 2013 Conundrum red.  As with the white, I really don’t know what grapes were used in the Conundrum other than they came from the Golden State. Again, the Conundrum came out the victor. June noted its dark berries and chocolate notes. Jim’s a man of few words but it was clear he preferred the Conundrum.

While I liked both reds, tasting them side-by-side demonstrated the complexity of judging wines. We had some tasty appetizers that seemed to go well with the Conundrum.  But I could tell that the St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, which has an earthy mushroom nose and a big bold taste, was just waiting for a thick, juicy steak to show off everything it has.

So, the 2017 Judgment of Santa Clarita was for the Conundrum.


April 24, 2017


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