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‘Food & Wine’ “Santa Barbara’s Best in Class”

‘Food & Wine’ “Santa Barbara’s Best in Class”

Gavin talks alcohol levels and the diversity of Santa Barbara terroir with local sommeliers Eric Railsback, Brian McClintic and Chanin Wine Co. neighbor, Justin Willett in this feature in FOOD & WINE.

Joining us around the tasting table is another local winemaker, Gavin Chanin, who even at the unripe age of 27 is getting a lot of attention for his low-alcohol Pinots. “I don’t like to say ‘low-alcohol,’” he corrects me, “because I think it’s the right amount of alcohol.” Most of us don’t think too much about the amount of alcohol in wine, until maybe the morning after, but it has become a hot-button topic among wine geeks because it’s so linked to flavor and balance.

Chanin explains why: The alcohol in wine comes from fermented sugar. Grapes develop more sugar as they ripen, so the less ripe the grapes are when they are picked, the lower the alcohol level of the wine. Santa Barbara’s winters are relatively warm, so the vines start flowering earlier; but the summers are temperate, so fruit can stay on the vine longer and ripen more gradually. This means producers are able to pick less-ripe fruit without sacrificing the desired flavors and colors.