Doug Margerum, winemaker and owner of Santa Barbara's excellent wine shop and restaurant, Wine Cask, has been a driving force in the region's gain in popularity. "We practice garagiste winemaking," he says, "handcrafting wine in a small facility that preserves its personality." Besides Santa Barbara County vintages, Margerum carries wines from all over the world. Here are a few of his favorites. At 813 Anacapa Street; 805-966-9463; www.winecask.com.
Wine I Could Always Drink
I never tire of my own Margerum Wine Company Pinot Gris "Alisos Vineyard" 2002 ($18). It has a lush aroma of Bartlett pears, apple, and mineral hints that go well with any food. It will improve for years to come.
A Well-Kept Secret
Bonnaire Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc NV ($30) is made from all Grand Cru vineyards. Not even Dom Perignon can boast that. For the same price as other labels, Bonnaire gives quadruple the finesse and taste.
Something To Search For
Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir "Knox Alexander" Santa Barbara County 2001 ($45) is worth seeking out. It is super-rich, with some floral notes and a velvet texture that only Pinot Noir seems to exhibit.
Buy Now, Drink Later
For a wine to lay down for several years, I'd choose Opus One Red Table Wine Napa Valley 1999 ($135). It has the ripeness of the '97s with the structure of the '98s. I consider this one of America's best wines.