Nov. 4 2016 03:42 PM

New Little Italy tasting room creating a buzz

    Photo by Jen Van Tieghem

    A painting on the exterior of Pali Wine Co.'s Little Italy location (2130 India St.) promises "fine wine and good times." I stopped in to try out that first part on the tasting room's third day in business; being the new wine bar on the block, it hopes to deliver on the second part soon enough.

    Pali Wine Co.—which also has tasting rooms in Lompoc and Santa Barbara—focuses on small production Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using California grapes. To venture into other varietals, the company started a second label, Tower 15, which offers Bordeaux and Rhone blends. At the moment, wine drinkers can choose a flight of five wines from either label with additional options to come.

    I worked my way through the Pali tasting starting with its light and lemony Chardonnay. Following that, four distinctly different Pinot Noirs with increasing complexity showcased flavors reflective of the areas they hailed. After much delicious deliberation, I settled on the 2014 Summit from Santa Rita Hills as my favorite. With an earthy quality on the nose, the palate presents ripe red fruits and a tinge of cola.

    I also tasted a few selections on the Tower 15 list, the highlight being the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This weighty wine had a rich berry quality begging for a hearty steak or decadent cheese course.

    Pali's tasting room manager, Margeaux Harris, noted a plan to regularly change selections on these lists, so frequent visitors can sample a variety.

    Another addition on the near horizon will be eight "fresh" wines on tap. These will be available in flights, glasses, carafes and take-home one-liter growlers. The to-go option is one Harris is eager to introduce. She described how the barrel-to-keg system saves money for both the winery and consumer—cutting down on bottling and labeling expenses.

    Just as growlers have become a mainstay in the beer scene, they're growing in popularity in local wine bars. Pali's will cost $25 for a first-time fill and $15 for refills. Taking home a liter of tasty Pinot (or other selection) at that price should tantalize budget-minded winos, like me.

    Pali Wine Co. scheduled its grand openings for Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, with the hope to unveil food options, including charcuterie boards, and if all goes according to plan, those promised good times.

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