Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart

Racines: California meets Burgundy in the Santa Rita Hills

Racines: California meets Burgundy in the Santa Rita Hills

Among the many great winemakers from Burgundy who have landed on the West Coast, the most exciting of all might be the most recent arrival: Etienne de Montille. His wines are sought after by all those who love burgundy, especially fellow winemakers.

When Etienne decided to make wine out west, he took a road trip with his Chef du Cave, Brian Sieve. Focusing their efforts on the cool climate sites, they started in the Willamette Valley, worked their way down the Sonoma Coast through the Santa Cruz Mountains and ended their journey in Santa Barbara. Of all the sites they explored, soil and climatic conditions they witnessed and wines they tasted, it was Santa Rita Hills north of Santa Barbara where they saw the most potential.

The other draw to this area was the tremendous talent of Tyler Winery's Justin Willett. Along with Rodolphe Peters of Pierre Peters, the four joined forces in a new project they call Racines. Racines is French for "roots", but the seeds for this project were planted a few years back. Raj Parr introduced Justin to Etienne in 2012 and a few years later, Justin found himself in Burgundy tasting with Montille's cellar manager Brian Sieve.

The two became fast friends and also started a regular correspondence to exchange advice during harvests. Fast forward a few years - Etienne and Brian approached Justin to partner in their US project. Étienne brought along Rodolphe Péters of Champagne Pierre Peters, who wanted to start a sparkling wine venture in the US - and the rest is history. 2017 is their inaugural vintage.

We were very proud to host Etienne and Justin for a tasting and conversation before the release of their first vintage way back in February of 2020. Even with our high expectations, each wine easily surpassed them. The application of Burgundian winemaking with the cool climate and limestone rich soils of the Santa Rita Hills produces something that lies in that magical spot between Californian and French wines. A perfect hybrid of Etienne and Justin’s visions; wines that are savory and brooding yet delicate and driven by minerality. Racines Pinots are layered and complex with the ability to age while being poised, elegant and delicious in their youth.

At the time we ordered everything we could get our hands but demand was such that it sold out very quickly. But because of the vagaries of these last 12 months there was a little bit of Pinot Noir left at the winery.

Justin, Brian, Etienne and Rodolphe are marrying the time-honored techniques of Burgundy and Champagne with the pioneering energy of California and in the process, they are rediscovering the nuances of the Sta. Rita Hills most iconic vineyards. Racines is a new benchmark not just for California but for Pinot and Chardonnay the world over.

Racines, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, 2017

A blend of fruit from the Bentrock, La Encantada, La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict vineyards. On average, one third whole cluster is retained during fermentation and only punched down for about three weeks before being put to standard 228l barrel for elevage.

"The 2017 Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills) is bold, punchy and super-expressive, with lovely aromatic nuance to play off the dark cherry and plum fruit. Classy and layered, the appellation Pinot is a wine of real character and breeding. Then again, that is not surprising given that vineyard sites are La Encantada, Sanford & Benedict, La Rinconada and Bentrock. The 2017 is a gorgeous wine from Etienne De Montille and Justin Willett." - Antonio Galloni

Racines, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, La Rinconada Vineyard, 2017

From the upper plantings at La Rinconada in deep, dark rocky soils. This is a selection of Mt. Eden brought down years ago. Two thirds whole cluster, and fermented similarly to the Sta. Rita Hills cuvee. Put down to a third new barrels for 18 months before bottling.

"The 2017 Pinot Noir La Rinconada is powerful and explosive in the glass, with tremendous structural intensity driving a deep expression of site. Lavender, sage, mint, savory herbs and rich blue-toned fruit give the 2017 a distinctly virile, somber personality. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2017 is going to need time to be at its best." - Antonio Galloni

Racines, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, 2017

A combination of three parcels throughout the famous Sanford & Benedict vineyard. Two of the plantings are 10-12 years old, but certainly responsible for the dark, deep core to this wine. The third piece, a small fermentation of the original plantings from 1971, brings elegance and floral lift. Aged for 18 months in about forty percent new french oak barrels.

"The 2017 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict is sensual, silky and impeccable in its balance. There is lovely nuance in the glass to match the wine's mid-weight, restrained personality. Sweet floral notes and purplish fruit linger in the glass." - Antonio Galloni