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NorCal Wine Blog

Tasting the Wines of Andrew Murray Vineyards

During my recent trip to Santa Barbara County I stopped in at the tasting room of Rhone-variety specialist Andrew Murray Vineyards. The tasting room, conveniently located on Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, is sleekly modern with surfaces of bright white, gleaming glass and chrome accented by splashes of color. Wine is the clear focus but there are a few other things on sale too, from gourmet chocolate bars to wine accessories. The tasting bar accommodates four stools and one or two standing customers. There’s additional seating along the side walls. It's open daily from 11am to 5pm.

Winemaker Andrew Murray             Photo: Andrew Murray Vineyards

Andrew Murray’s tasting room manager kindly accommodated me before regular open hours, so I was able to focus fully on the wines. They are reasonably priced, ranging from $16 to $36, and all are bottled under screwcap and in light glass to reduce the carbon footprint. Quality was very good across the board.


2012 Andrew Murray RGB Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, $25
This blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc straddles two worlds to good effect. There’s plenty of fruit but also mineral, full-bodied viscosity but freshness and silky texture. Aromas include peach blossom, spice, citrus rind, mineral and a chiffonade of herb. The weighty palate brings long-lasting, cool-climate flavors of under-ripe stone fruit, peach pit and mineral. Highly Recommended

2012 Andrew Murray Viognier Santa Maria Valley, $25
The Andrew Murray Viognier smells like a carefree summer’s day: frozen peaches, cotton candy, spice and citrus blossoms. There’s more frozen peach on the nearly full-bodied palate along with peach skin, lime and grapefruit pith plus minerality. Notable acidity and a fine powdery texture keep it clean and interesting. The mineral-dominated finish is lengthy. Recommended+

2011 Andrew Murray Syrah Thompson Vineyard (Los Alamos Valley, Santa Barbara County), $38
This deeply-colored Syrah smells deliciously of black cherry ice cream with a hint of herb and baking spice. The seductive palate is nearly full-bodied with moderate, fine-grained tannins and flavors of black cherry, briary blackberry, spice and mocha. Good length. Now through 2017. Highly Recommended

2011 Andrew Murray Syrah Three Creek Vineyard, Happy Canyon, $36
A very fruit-forward Syrah, the Andrew Murray Three Creek offers festive boysenberry, blackberry and baking spice on the nose. That follows through—at length—on the medium+ palate along with earth and moderate talc-like tannins. Straight-forward and but very tasty. Enjoy through 2015. Highly Recommended

2010 Andrew Murray Syrah Terra Bella Vineyard Paso Robles, $36
This site, near Paso Robles’ Adelaida District, brought ripe cherry ice cream, baking spice, vanilla and a hint of herb on the nose. The flavor of espresso is added to the mix on the palate which is medium+ in body. Tannins are moderate and talc-like but drying and cut into the finish. Try it with juicy grilled lamb chops or smokey baby back ribs. Highly Recommended

2012 Elleven Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley, $16
Elleven, it’s name an allusion to the famous Spinal Tap line, is an Andrew Murray brand focused on delivering value with varietals for which quality is elusive under $20. The Pinot Noir exceeds expectations, pleasing with plentiful, varietally-correct flavors. Brown spice leads earthy red cherry and dry herb on the nose and palate. The body is medium+ with talc-like tannins on the lean side of moderate. Juiciness balances the package. Recommended

2012 Elleven Big Bottom Red Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, $16
This wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, is not as broadly-proportioned as its name suggests but will get you farther on a date than singing the song in a girl’s ear. The gregarious nose lures you with currant leaf, black currant, mocha and red cherry. Flavors of red cherry, dark berries, spice, mocha and scattered dry leaves string you along. Moderate, talc-like tannins provide enough resistance to keep the chase interesting. Recommended

2012 Elleven Unplugged White Blend Santa Ynez Valley, $16
The name Unplugged is apt for this restrained blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. The medley of bell pepper, spice, gooseberry and lime salt struck a familiar chord but didn’t command my attention. Though the medium+ body satisfied and its light texture had raspy-voiced charm, the overall production didn't get me dancing.

Andrew Murray Vineyards offers other wines, including the Esperance Red Blend, a Mourvedre varietal and other single-vineyard Syrahs, but I didn’t taste them on this occasion.

Interpreting my wine ratings


Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The reviews above reflect my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

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This article is original to Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. The Andrew Murray Vineyards logo is a trademark of Andrew Murray Vineyards. All rights reserved.