Small batch producers are the rage in Santa Barbara County, with Habit holding the top spot in my book of those who are breaking new ground. Workman/Ayer is another one of them who are bringing more of that Garagiste mentality to the region.
2014 Workman/Ayer ipso facto Viognier, Central Coast
The first of three wines from the boutique producer WorkmanAyer is a delightfully refreshing 100 percent Viognier. Now, lovers of Rhone Viogniers don’t come with your predisposed notions of what Viognier needs to be even if it’s made in California. For you, go taste any Viognier made by Morgan Clendenen. For those of you who want a very Californian Viognier that can hold its own with the best, try this one. Yummy white peach, pear, apricot, early picked green apple, a hint of honeysuckle all are in the wine. Then you get hit with the layer of citrus. Lemon, lime and orange peel are there, with a hint of Meyer lemon in the finish. This is a wine of great length and balance and as white wines go, is a tremendous match up to Hamachi Crudo. As the night wore on, even with the reds open, I found myself going back to taste this impressive white. It kept going from strength to strength taking on body and becoming a delightful summer white.
2012 Workman/Ayer de facto Red Wine, Central Coast
The Rhone blend if GSM is very much a fruit forward red wine that is easy to drink. Made up of 80 percent Syrah, 15 percent Grenache and 5 percent Mourvedre, it's an enjoyable red wine that works equally well with meat and fish.
As Santa Barbara County wines go, the de Facto is a nice, pleasant and easy to drink red, but not as big in style as say a Margerum M5 or No Limits Grenache by Ethan Lindquist, but it carries the kind of body and flavor muck akin to the Kaena Hapa Red blend. So while the deFacto wine has only three years or so in bottle, it is really complete, totally in balance and has a certain quality that turns non red wine fans into fans who want more. The wine also has that Grenache spice quality to it that shows through from start to finish. It has been made in a more fruit forward, ready to drink now style, yet it likely can age 5-7 years easily with proper cellaring.
2013 Workman/Ayer de facto Red Wine, Central Coast
Talk about night and day. The recently bottled and soon to be released 2013 was not showing as well as the 2012 when the cork was pulled and was a serious candidate for decanting as it is very, very young. It actually had a bit of that Aussie style nail polish varnish aroma at first, but as it opened that blew off and began to reveal lots of nice ripe and round flavors of wild berries, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry. There was also lots of sage, rosemary and lavender in the nose as the wine opened in the glass. A dash of white pepper spice, some black licorice, plums, hints of wild cherry and black raspberry were all lining up , all encased in gentle tannins. In some ways this red reminded me more of older wines by Andrew Murray, when he had that amazing wine property and vineyard. Think Roasted Slope meets Esperance and you'll immediately know why the 2013 de Facto is such a gem.
The wine is very long in the elegance department and that is not usually found in a wine so young given where the grapes were sourced from and how different 2013 was for some winemakers in the Central Coast. It’s enjoyable and drinkable early for a 2013 but can go 10 years easily.