A Malibu wine tasting

Jan 25th, 2010 Jayne Pearce

Malibu is primarily known for its beaches and celebrity living but more recently the humble vine has started to move in next door.   There are two American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) within the region - Malibu Newton Canyon and Malibu Saddle Rock.   The Malibu Newton Canyon AVA boundary is approx. 4 miles from the Pacific within the Malibu city limits at an elevation of 400-850 metres approx. above sea level. Malibu Saddle Rock AVA stretches north, south and west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains.

I tried the Rosenthal and Malibu Sanity wines from the two AVA’s at the very pleasant and highly recommended Cornell winery and tasting room off Mulholland Hwy.  The Semler and Saddlerock labels were tasted at the very relaxing Malibu Family Wines tasting bar.  Check out my notes below with a brief intro on the wineries.

Rosenthal Estate:

The Rosenthal estate in Newton Canyon AVA started out in 1987 and now with 250 acres it produces a range of different styles of wine.

Rosenthal 2008 Surfrider Sauvignon Blanc: A refreshing green apple nose and a touch of pear drops.  Citrus on the palate with some acidity and a relatively long length.

Rosenthal 2007 Surfrider Pinot Noir: A relatively light purple-ruby hue with strawberry and raspberry sorbet on the nose.  On the palate is subtle cherry and elegant red fruits with very soft tannins and good acidity.  I like this one - great as an aperitif as it’s not too heavy on the head.

Malibu Sanity:

Malibu Sanity is unique in its size - small, very small.  At 1 acre in total and a 200 case production quality is without doubt heavily controlled.  The result is a beautifully crafted grape.

Malibu Sanity 2008 Chardonnay: Youthful yellow hues with subtle vanilla and green fruits on the nose.  A great full bodied mouth feel with citrus and and integrated oak on the palate.  Wonderful length.  Try this with roast chicken.

Malibu Sanity 2008 Pinot Noir: This is an elegent pinot and you wont forget this in a hurry as it has a very lingering length.  This ruby coloured wine give off red fruits such as cranberry and raspberry on the nose followed by the more powerful black cherry on the palate.  This is definitely a food wine but don’t pair it with anything too heavy as it’ll get lost and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about - try with a red meat casserole and savour the taste.

Malibu Family Wines:


Malibu Family Wines offers two labels  - the Saddlerock and Semler.  Both are located within the Saddlerock - Malibu AVA where the high altitude offers some respite form the coastal heat.

Saddlerock 2008 Chardonnay: An easy-drinking chardonay with bright straw hues and exotic fruits on the nose and honeysuckle.  The palate delivers a honeydew melon and citrus fruits.  Slightly flabby but fine if lower acidity is what you are seeking. It would work fine as an aperitif.

Semler 2006 Syrah: This Rhone-style deep ruby syrah exhibits fine savoury aromatics with spice and dried black fruits on the palate.  It shows good balance and a long length which would work very well with an equally robust red meat and sauce dish.

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