Here are some of the wines from Southern California garagistes I enjoyed recently. Most are very limited production and available almost exclusively through the winery's e-commerce site, though you may occasionally turn up one or two at a forward-thinking wine bar or restaurant.
2012 Vinemark Cellars Cabernet Franc (Paso Robles), $29
This Cabernet Franc from Mark Wasserstein is spicy and robust, with dark berry notes and fine balance. He also makes Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Primitivo (both dry and sweet) — and here's an oddball one, Touriga dessert wine from the Portuguese red grape. If you go to his website, he even has some library (older vintages) wines available; www.vinemarkcellars.com.
2012 Carucci Wines "White Hawk Vineyard" Viognier (Santa Barbara County), $28
A beautiful example of Viognier from Santa Barbara County's White Hawk Vineyard. Perfumed with flowers and almonds, it is soft and dry but intense enough to go from aperitif to the table; www.carucciwines.com. Eric Carucci sources his grapes carefully and also makes a Syrah from Thompson Vineyard in the Los Alamos Hills.
2012 Weatherborne Wine Corp. "Santa Rita Hills" Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County), $35
For his first Pinot, winemaker Chris Carter sourced grapes from John Sebastiano and Melville Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills. Bright and lively with lots of sweet fruit, it is cool and clean, with an intriguing darker undertow, www.weatherborne.com.
2011 Cloak & Dagger Wines "Pseudonym" Pinot Noir (Paso Robles), $65
From Coeur du Val Vineyard, neighboring on Ray Schofield and Cloak & Dagger's own vineyard in Templeton Gap, a lovely, supple Pinot Noir with hints of strawberry and earth. Just two barrels were made. I also liked the 2011 Sangiovese reserve Illuminatus. Other wines include Cryptology (the blend is a secret), the Assassin (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (a Syrah/Sangiovese blend), www.cloakanddaggerwines.com.