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

Red Wine from California, United States

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The new partnership between Justin Willett, Etienne de Montille and Rodophe Peters provides this insight into the renowned quality of the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard.

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Among the many great Burgundy winemakers who have landed on the West Coast and are making wine here, 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, 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 of the first vintage of Racines. 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. Layered and complex with the ability to age but so elegant and delicious when in their youth. The Chardonnays are crystalline and transparent with edges of savoriness and salinity. The Pinots are layered and structured with that brooding quality that Montille's Burgundies are known for.

Professional Reviews

Antonio Galloni

AG 92
"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. My impression is that the 2017 is still recovering from its relatively recent bottling. We will see." -Vinous

Robert Parker

RP 91
"Bottled one week before I tasted it, the 2017 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is medium ruby and youthfully shy, giving up black and red cherry preserves, orange peel, warm earth, raspberry and rhubarb with cinnamon stick and dried herbs. Medium-bodied with intense, spicy fruits, it has firm, chalky tannins and seamless acidity, finishing long." -Robert Parker


D 93
"The 2017 Racines Wine Co. Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Pinot Noir is sourced from three separate parcels, and includes a portion of the original, own-rooted vines planted in 1971. The nose is classic Sanford & Benedict, combining freshness of fruit with crushed stones and an airy texture. Flavours of orange rinds and red plum skins segue into a finish that takes a few seconds to really set in and show itself. As with the rest of the Racines wines, there is structure here for the long term and the wines should be cellared for a least a few years."


  • Grape Variety

    Pinot Noir

  • Vintage


  • Size


  • Farming Practice


  • Style

    Aromatic , Earthy , Fruity

  • Sweetness


  • Body

    Medium Bodied