Our wines have been given high ratings with Wine Enthusiast, the Rhone Report, Wine Advocate and others. You can see some of our reviews and ratings here. If there is a wine you're interested in learning more about that is not listed, please give us a call at 805.937.1600.
Reviews by Richard Jennings
2007 Elevation Sensation
6/9/12 (Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Vineyard) Intense, dried berry,
chocolate, baked plum nose; intense, dried berry, chocolate, baked plum palate;
medium-plus finish (42 mos. in barrel, vs. 37 mos. on the last bottling I
tried; 62% Grenache, 38% Mourvedre)
2008 Elevation Sensation
5/23/13 (Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Vineyard) Medium red color with pale meniscus; tart berry, dried berry, dried cherry nose; delicious, silky textured, spicy, ripe cherry, baked cherry palate; long finish 92+ points (82% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre; 15.1% alcohol; 10% whole cluster; 48 mos in oak)
2008 Hard Core
5/23/13 (Core Hard Core) Dark red violet color; intense, black fig, spicy, baked cherry nose; complex, cherry, tar, baked berry, tart berry, dried fig palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (37% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Mourvedre, 4% Grenache; 14.9% alcohol; 42 mos in barrel)
2006 Ground Around
6/5/11 (Core Ground Around) Medium dark red color with 2 millimeter clear meniscus; intense, tart red berry, cinnamon nose; intense, tart red berry, tart red fruit palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (39% Grenache, 36% Tempranillo, 25% Syrah)
2007 Ground Around
5/23/13 (Core Ground Around) Medium dark red color; lifted, cinnamon, tart cherry nose; silky textured, tart cranberry, cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish (41% Tempranillo from Santa Barbara Highlands vineyard, 23% Tempranillo from Laetitia vineyard, 18% Grenache from Alta Mesa vineyard, 18% Syrah from Santa Barbara Highlands vineyard; 14.9% alcohol)
2006 Cuvee Fletcher Alta Mesa Vineyard
8/22/11 (Core Cuvée Fletcher Alta Mesa Vineyard) Tar, tart black fruit, cold espresso nose; tar, tart black fruit, cold espresso palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points
2007 Cuvee Fletcher Alta Mesa Vineyard
6/9/12 (Core Cuvée Fletcher Alta Mesa Vineyard) Very dark red violet color; redolent, tart berry, baked berry nose; tasty, tart berry, baked berry palate; medium-plus finish (89% Grenache, 11% Mourvedre) 92 points
2008 Grenache Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard
6/9/12 (Core Grenache Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard) Medium red color; redolent, tart plum, tart cherry, black cherry nose; tangy, tart plum, tart cherry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish 89 points
2008 Grenache Reserve
6/9/12 (Core Grenache Reserve Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard) Medium red color with pale meniscus; redolent, baked cherry, black cherry nose; baked cherry, black cherry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points
2005 C3 Crazy Eights
6/23/13 (Core Crazy Eights) Cloudy very dark red violet color; aromatic, tart cherry, cranberry, red berry nose; tart cherry, cranberry, red berry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 89 points
2006 C3 Crazy Eights
6/5/11 (Core Hard Core) Dark red violet color; intense, black fig, spicy, baked cherry nose; complex, cherry, tar, baked berry, tart berry, dried fig palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (37% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Mourvedre, 4% Grenache; 14.9% alcohol; 42 mos in barrel) 91 points
2008 Mourvedre Santa Barbara County
6/9/12 (Core Mourvedre Santa Barbara County) Slightly cloudy medium red color; redolent, baked plum, tart cherry nose; maturing, tart cherry, tart plum palate; medium-plus finish 89 points
2006 Mister Morved
8/23/10 (Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa Vineyard) Green herb, black fruit, charcoal nose; intense green herb, black fruit, charcoal palate; medium-plus finish 91+ pts. (79% Mourvedre, 21% Grenache) 91 points
2007 Mister Morved
(Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa Vineyard) Cloudy, opaque purple red violet color; baked berry, baked plum nose; tart black fruit, baked black fruit, tart berry, tar, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish 91+ points (93% Mourvedre, 7% Grenache) 91 points
5/23/13 (Core Viognier) Light peach yellow color; appealing, ripe peach, honeysuckle nose; rich, creamy textured, ripe peach, honeysuckle palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (14.5% alcohol)
2007 Tempranillo C3
5/23/13 (Core Tempranillo C³) Dark red violet color; tart black fruit, tart berry, violets nose; complex, tart black fruit, tart berry, violets palate with medium acidity and a sense of salinity; medium-plus finish (clones 2 & 3; 14.9% alcohol)
2007 Tempranillo C3 Reserve
6/6/16 (Core Tempranillo C3 Reserve) Very dark ruby color; appealing, ripe berry, baked berry, baked black fruit, anise, light chocolate, ginger cake nose; tight, dense, complex, tart berry, anise, tart plum, tart currant, light milk chocolate palate; needs 2 years; long finish (14.9% alcohol; sample provided by winery) 92 points
2008 Tempranillo C3 Reserve
6/23/13 (Core Tempranillo C3 Reserve) Medium dark red violet color; lifted, aromatic, tart cranberry, red berry nose; juicy, tart red berry, cranberry palate; medium-plus finish 90+ points
Issue 10, December 2011
2007 Core B Core Camp 4 Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $35
An intriguing white that’s more about complexity and richness than straight fruit, the 2007 Core B Core Camp 4 Vineyard is a blend of 75% Roussanne and 25% Marsanne that spent 37 months in barrel. Sporting rich aromas of honeycomb, marzipan, mineral, and crème on the nose, with hints of peach and pineapple nuances coming through with air, this medium-bodied white is surprisingly fresh and supple on the palate, possessing clean, juicy acidity, and solid length. Tasting like a top Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, this is delicious now, yet should also have an interesting evolution. I hate to extrapolate too much, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this still drinking beautifully in a decade. (92 pts.)
2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara County (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $20
Spending two years in older barrels, the 2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara County showed even better this go around and is a solid value! A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah, fermented with some stems, it delivers a meaty profile with bright cherry, spice, ground pepper, and underbrush aromas and flavors leading into a medium-bodied, supple, and textured wine that has juicy acidity and plenty of length. It opens up in the glass and should be enjoyed over the coming 5-8 years. (89 pts.)
2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $32
Even better is the 2008 Core Grenache Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard. A blend of 100% Grenache fermented with even a higher percentage of stems, it exhibits a decidedly beefy, meaty character that’s supported by sweet fruit, smoke, and underlying minerality on the nose. Medium to full bodied on the palate, with juicy acidity, outstanding texture, and solid length, this is drinking beautifully now, yet should age gracefully for 7-8 years. (91 pts.)
2007 Core Hard Core 42-Months (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $25
The 2007 Core Hard Core 42-Months had just been bottles at the time of this tasting and certainly didn’t suffer from it. Boasting loads of spice, cedar, and coffee, as well as gorgeous underlying core of currant and blackberry styled fruit, this is outstanding on the palate and shows a round texture, serious mid-palate density, and a great finish. I’m a fan and this is a smoking value that should have upwards of a decade of prime drinking. (92+ pts.)
2007 Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa 37-Months (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $42
A blend of 62% Grenache and 38% Mourvedre, fermented with 5% whole cluster and aged for 37 months in barrel (the normal cuvee sees 42 montsh), the 2007 Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa 37-Months is dense and concentrated, showing a spice-driven bouquet of black fruits, coffee, earth, and subtle road tar. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, with a core of sweet fruit, juicy acidity, and ripe tannin, this chewy, broad wine should benefit from 1-2 years of bottles age, and drink well for 8-10. (92 pts.)
2007 Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa 42-Months (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $42
Even darker and showing more smoked black fruits, coffee, and spiced meat like characteristics, the 2007 Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa 42- Months is a beauty! Round, mouth filling, and dense, with brilliant purity of fruit and a chewy, broad finish, this needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should shine for 10-12 years. (93+ pts.)
2007 Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa 37-Months (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $45
Aged in mostly used barrels and the same blend as the standard cuvee (aged 42 months), the 2007 Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa 37-Months has slightly more lift and brightness than the longer aged wine, showing loads of youthful black fruits, earth, mineral, pepper, and chocolate on the nose. Full bodied and beautifully concentrated and rich, with edgy tannin and good acidity, this needs 3-4 years in the cellar to fully integrate, and will drink well for 10-12 years. (93 pts.)
2007 Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa 42-Months (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $45
Almost identical to the 37-Month aged cuvee, yet with a touch more richness and depth, the 2007 Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa 42-Months is showing every bit as well as it did over a year ago, with savory aromas of meat, coffee, and graphite that are supported by brilliant cassis and blackberry styled fruits. Full-bodied, mouth filling, and very rich, with impeccable balance and a chewy, lengthy finish, this beauty could still use another handful of years in the cellar, and will drink well for 10-12 years or longer. (94 pts.)
2005 Core Ground Around (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $38
Aging gracefully and still youthful, the 2005 Core Ground Around (40% Grenache, 30% Tempranillo, and 30% Syrah) exhibits earthy red fruits, black currants, licorice, spice cabinet, and assorted meaty nuances on the nose. Medium bodied on the palate and lightly textured, with solid acidity and focus on the finish, this improves in the glass and benefits from a decant. Enjoy bottles over the coming 3-5 years. (89 pts.)
2006 Core Ground Around (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $38
Showing similarly, with possibly even more depth, the 2006 Core Ground Around is a similar blend with 39% Grenache, 36% Tempranillo, and 25% Syrah. A ruby red, opaque color, it shows a dense, smoky character with black cherries, ground pepper, roasted meat, and crushed stone like minerality on the nose. Some leafy tobacco and herb like notes emerge in the glass, and this medium+ bodied blend is savory and balanced on the palate, showing a clean, focused texture, and dry, chewy tannin on the finish. Love the aromatics here, and this has decidedly old-world, savory character that will make it versatile on the dinner table. It benefits from a decant, and should continue to drink well for 5-8 years. (89+ pts.)
2007 Core Ground Around (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County) $38
With much more Tempranillo in the blend (64% Tempranillo and the rest an even split of Syrah and Grenache) and a slightly more high toned profile, the 2007 Core Ground Around sports a deep purple color to go with youthful notes of blackberry and plum styled fruits to go with notes of new leather, sage, and black pepper. This gives way to a medium-bodied, supple red that has juicy acidity, a dry, savory character, and solid length on the finish. Fine tannin rounds out the finish nicely, and this well done, age-worthy blend needs 3-4 years of bottle age and has upwards of a 10-12 years of longevity. (90 pts.)
2003 Core Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Santa Barbara $34.99
Robert Parker: The elegant 2003 Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Vineyard is a blend of 49% Mourvedre, 49% Grenache, and 2% Syrah. Raspberry, blackberry, and cherry liqueur-like characteristics are present in this medium-bodied, finesse-styled effort that is reminiscent of a cool climate Chateauneuf du Pape (i.e., Rayas). Neither overblown nor big, it is a restrained yet authoritative red to drink over the next 3-4 years. 149 cases were produced. 90 points
2004 ELEVATION SENSATION
92 points Wine Advocate
2005 Core Wine Company "Elevation Sensation" Alta Mesa Vineyard Santa Barbara County
93 points from Robert Parker: "The brilliant 2005 Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Vineyard (82% Mourvedre and 18% Grenache) exhibits notes of creme de cassis, kirsch, blueberries, licorice, and truffles. Full-bodied, powerful, and silky-textured, it is stunningly complex with notes of flowers, red and black fruits, earth, and spice.
Often the word "fine" precedes the word "wine" during dinner conversation. I don't know exactly where and when in our history we began associating these words together; but I will say that the most natural word I can come up with in order to describe the wines of Core is exactly this: Fine. The mouthfeel is refined and soothing, the aromas are sophisticated and exuberant, and especially in the blend of the Hard Core, I find myself admiring not the sum of the parts but the quality of the whole. There is undiscovered luxury here.
The Central Coast is home to a little more than 1 million people - that's fairly unpopulated when you consider that 20 million people live in southern California, and that northern California is home to about 14 million people. This stretch between the population centers is home to 100,000 acres of planted vineyards. It's largely rural, with pockets of interesting side trips and a big city about every 3 hours from the next.
If you take Interstate 5, more inland, you choose speed over areas of interest. If you choose U.S. 101, you are destined to pass quickly through Santa Maria and you will miss one of my favorite little wine stops, in Old Orcutt, a small unincorporated portion of Santa Maria that is old anytown, USA. This place could be the next Los Olivos in ten years, or it could be exactly the same... it's that great timeless old American style. Situated among the small family-owned shops here is the Core tasting room. This is a place that people seek out...you will want to do the same.
Core was founded in 2001 by Dave Corey, who has built a reputation on big time Rhone varietals and blends. Corey is an industry veteran, coming up through the vineyards of Cambria and later Kendall-Jackson. He founded Vital Vines in 1999 to provide sustainable agriculture consulting and support to vineyard owners, managers, and winemakers throughout the Santa BarbaraAVAs.
I was greeted in the tasting room by his wife, Becky, and their two year old son Kellan, who was the unscheduled entertainment of the visit. I had the bar to myself, but I know this place gets busy later in the day as locals come to enjoy a glass and refill their wine racks with gems. As a family operation, they offer tons of options for you. You'll also be able to meet the family, hear stories, and gain an intimate understanding of the production.
If you like to meet the artist behind the art, this is a great place to do it. My timing was fortuitous, and I was able to see Kellan playing champion level peek-a-boo and sorting dinosaurs while talking to Dada on the phone (Dave was at the winery receiving orders; he expressed his chagrin for missing our tasting).
The bonus here is that the wine rocks. For $10, the tasting will get you five or six pours. I liked every ounce I tried, starting with the 2010 Core Viognier (Vee-OhN-yay): a 100 case batch that showed medium acid, bright minerality, and wild floral notes that I love in central coast Viognier. If you know you're not a "white wine drinker," and you've never had Viognier, I suggest you get a good central coast bottle of this varietal and see if your life changes. This is a good place to get a bottle. On to the reds!
I admit I've cheated and tried the 08 Core Grenache Reserve before this tasting, in fact, it's the hook that got me in the door. This 100% Grenache from the Santa Barbara highlands is ruby red, it offers cherry on the nose, and it folds robust spices like fennel in among the dried cherry palate. With a long creamy finish that opens up late - given time to decant, I'd recommend buying bottles of this vintage to store, as there doesn't appear to be any follow up years of the reserve.
The second red is the exuberant 08 Core Hard Core, a Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet blend that will only get better with more time in the bottle, and more time to decant outside of the bottle. Fruit forward to begin, with obvious rhubarb and red strawberries on the nose, the palate opened up later to show more balance with spices, clove, and some leathery tannins. This blend is better than its price point at around $20, and will be a centerpiece during any meal. I asked for a clean glass going forward so I could let this one open up in its own glass for the remainder of my tasting. Hint: it kept getting better.
Next up we veer away from the Rhone varietals and into the Bordeaux style of Turchi, Core's second label. Leading with the 08 Cabernet from Santa Barbara County gave soft tannins, coffee on the nose, and some fruit forward plum jam on first taste. This is another one that needs some time in a decanter... if you have time, ask them to open it up for you.
The last red is the Kuyam Cuvee Nolan 2007. This blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot showed big body, nice tannins, barrel age, and black cherry all the way. Drink this with that prized barbecue brisket or beef bourguignon.
All in all, this is a pleasant small town experience with wine that will leave your palate fulfilled. If you are the wine club type, their 60 Buck Club is a quarterly club that will send you a few bottles from the courageous catalog of the Core family.
The 2006 Ground Around is a mere 260 case production. It is a blend of three of the California Central Coast’s most important red grape varieties: Grenache (39%) from Alta Mesa Vineyard, Tempranillo (36%) from Laetitia Vineyard, and Syrah (25%) from Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard. The 2006 Ground Around offers a deep garnet robe, an amplifying aroma of blackberry, cranberry and dried cherries, along with baking spices, fennel and dried herbs. In the mouth, complex fruit flavors infused with eucalyptus, dark chocolate and espresso tones dominate the flavor profile and gratify the thirsty palate. The finish is long on this unique blend with an intense interplay of fruit, spice, and tannin. Enjoy this delicious blend now and over the next several years. For optimal enjoyment of the 2006 Ground Around, we suggest at least thirty minutes of aeration before serving at cool room temperature (60°-65° F). Enjoy!
As a bright, complex wine with plenty of panache, the 2006 Core Ground Around pairs well with a variety of foods, including spicy Mediterranean and Tex-Mex dishes. For starters, consider serving this artful blend with corn or pita chips and a blackened shrimp and chorizo sausage dip. Chicken or beef nachos with Manchego and Ashe County Cheddar, pickled jalapeños, sautéed Portobello mushrooms, grilled peppers and avocado also make a tasty pairing with the 2006 Ground Around. Eggplant Rollatini, spicy sausage and bean dishes, and heady pasta sauces make wonderful accompaniments, too. Grilled pork chops served with garlic mashed potatoes, collard greens, and pearl onions will complement this wine as well, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
Many of California’s most interesting, palate pleasing, and compelling wines emanate from small boutique wineries which produce such limited quantities of their liquid gems that few wine lovers ever have the opportunity to taste them. Long-time International Wine of the Month Club members will attest to the fact that craft wine producers do indeed fashion some of the finest wines in America, as our members have often been recipients of many theretofore undiscovered treasures from boutique family wineries. On that note, it is our pleasure to present to you this month our latest discovery – Core Ground Around.
Core Ground Around is the handiwork of Dave and Becky Corey and their Core Wine Company, which they launched in 2001. Before beginning Core Wine Company, Dave worked with Cambria Winery and Vineyards and Kendall-Jackson Vineyards of Santa Barbara County before beginning Vital Vines, a viticultural company providing technical support for vineyard property owners, vineyard managers and winemaking personnel in the promotion of sustainable agriculture. He has worked with such clients as Laetitia, Barnwood, Beckmen, Melville, Stolpman, Gainey, Zaca Mesa, Sea Smoke, Le Bon Climat, Rusack, Sine Qua Non, and Westerly among others – not exactly a paltry portfolio of wineries. Becky has worked for the Robert Mondavi owned Byron Winery in multiple areas of hospitality, public relations, and sales & marketing as well as Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in Arroyo Grande as Director of Public Relations. She is also responsible for Core Wine Company’s striking label designs, which include her original artwork, and all sales and marketing. Core Wine Company is, after all, a family affair.