Tom Beckmen and his son, Steve, own one of the most unique parcels in California's Central Coast: Purisima Mountain Vineyard. This 365-acre hillside parcel overlooks the Santa Ynez Valley and sits on a bed of rocky limestone subsoil. Though common in the great Rhone regions Chateauneuf du Pape and Cote Rotie, limestone subsoil is extremely rare in California, which is exactly why the Beckmens chose the location for their vineyards back in the mid-1990s. Referred to as "calcaire" by vignerons in the Rhone Valley, limestone is composed of calcium carbonate, a substance that is extremely difficult for roots to penetrate. The result is a less vigorous growing condition that produces smaller vines with naturally occurring low yields of intensely flavored fruit.
It took a little time to both recognize the proper viticultural techniques for the land and to develop a reputation, but after years of intense vineyard development and recent adoption of the most rigorous biodynamic farming methodology, the Beckmens' Rhone-styled wines are among the elite of California. The Le Bec Red is a deeply colored, vibrant blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre--a delicious California version of a Southern Rhone red--with the concentration and backbone to stand up to hearty and refined cuisine.
Beckmen's Cuvee Le Bec makes us think of a sort of California "Cotes du Rhone". Lots of mixed berry aromas, a dash of spiciness and good structure from the Syrah and Mourvedre. This is a beautiful wine with a classic Santa Maria style BBQ.
Pair this wine with lamb chops roasted with rosemary and caramelized onions.