By now you’ve read my two articles on judging the first annual Global Wine Awards; you may have even seen a third installment on the winners. But what you haven’t seen, or had your virtual taste of, is the wine the judges awarded a Gold, then a Double Gold, and then finally the Best of Show to: Martellotto 2016 Il Cappocia Riserva (Barrel Aged) from Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara.

So, I’m here to rectify that. I ordered a bottle for myself, just for a little R and D, and to give me a full opportunity to savor over. For good measure I thought it wise to try another red from the same winery and same AVA, the 2016 La Bomba Cabernet. So, without further adieu, here are the results:

2016 Martellotto Il Cappocia Riserva

(Barrel Aged)

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec

Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara

Best in Show and 97 points at the Global Wine Awards


Color: Dark purple with some raisin-coloring on the edge.

Aroma: Crushed black cherry, blueberry, char, dark chocolate, cream, cigar, dried leaves and the tiniest whiff of menthol

Flavor: Blue to black fruit, cracked black pepper, dark chocolate again, velvety at the start and then a great bite of spice and tannin, yet balanced and just as good as I remembered. Excellent blend of Bordeaux grapes.

Pairing: Cheese and charcuterie board was our dining choice for the evening but this would pair well with anything from a juicy steak, Bolognese pasta to chocolate crème Brûlée.

Conclusion: As I noted when I had my taste: just as good as I remembered and well deserving of the Best of Show award we gave it. I was really looking forward to trying the Cab next…

2016 Martellotto La Bomba Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara

Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition; Double Gold and Best of Show at the Central Coast Wine Competition.


Color: Beautiful opaque blackberry.

Aroma: So, knowing that La Bomba translated is The Bomb I was looking forward to what I would find on the nose: a LOT of fresh and ripe blueberry, plum, green peppercorn, rich, spicy, coffee bean and no nose burn. The nose definitely called you in for the taste.

Flavor: bold red fruit followed by dark fruit in luscious layers and incredible balance, nice spicy qualities that lingered in the palate, both green and black pepper with the same velvety quality on the palate as the Il Cappocia Riserva

Pairing: I had this with a bacon-wrapped filet mignon smothered in sweet onion and sautéed mushroom. Yea, that was pretty great. But I also imagined this with a robust charcuterie board filled with Mortadella with pistachio, chorizo and both hard and soft cheese.

Conclusion: I found both an unexpected flavor and balance – akin to a young Napa Cab - for a SBC Cabernet. Very well done. Makes me want to seek out Happy Canyon and the winery to learn more.

From the Winery

Martellotto Wines is the only winery in Santa Barbara County to be winning this many awards for Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals, specifically from Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. 

The Rise of Santa Barbara Wines

As you know, this area is already well regarded for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production (which I also make). However, were you aware that our region is also producing some outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals? The TTB established the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA in 2009 given its distinctive climate in the far eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley. This warmer climate is proving to be fertile ground for high quality Bordeaux varietals, especially since the diurnal temperature changes are so dramatic. 

Today, a handful of producers are leading the way. I'm pleased to report Martellotto Winery is one of those wineries. In fact, Martellotto is one of the few wineries in California bottling varietally labeled wines of each of the five noble Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Martellotto Winery

100 Los Padres Way #7

Buellton, CA 93427

(619) 567-9244

*Tastings Available by Appointment Only

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com