It's the 2013 estate-grown Chardonnay from Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards, where, standing on the grounds just above the vines, you can see Catalina Island and the tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
The wines are available in Malibu wine and liquor shops, some Malibu restaurants, a few locations elsewhere and online. And they show up at events like the initial tasting held last October by the Malibu Coast Vintners & Grape Growers Alliance.
The first wine was produced in 2009. "We were very pleased with the result," Dolin said. That's a modest statement, considering the wine won a silver medal in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
The next year, the 2010 Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards Chardonnay won a double gold in the same competition. By then, the winemaker was Kirby Anderson, formerly head winemaker for Gainey Vineyard.
Located at 400 feet altitude, with ocean breezes, cool nights and sunny days, Dolin's vines are subject, like all vineyards, to weather issues. In 2014, there was no harvest, because there weren't enough chill hours. "The vines didn't know if they were awake or asleep," he said.
This meant he had to buy grapes elsewhere. When there is a harvest, Dolin calls in a maintenance crew to pick, then load the bins into refrigerated trucks that take them to a Central Coast winemaking facility. Harvesting 2 1/2 tons of grapes, which has been established as the ideal output for the vineyard, takes only three hours.
His vineyard is one of 52 within the Malibu Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area), which was established in 2014.
In 2013, Dolin produced two Chardonnays, an estate wine (100% barrel-fermented, 13 months in 25% new French oak, 100 % malolactic fermentation) and one from Malibu-Newton Canyon (15 months in oak, 33% of it new and made from a different Chardonnay clone).
Case production is small, 135 of the estate wine and 138 of the Newton Canyon Chardonnay. Yet the price is low for wines of such caliber, $39.
A collector, Dolin has a 1,600-bottle wine cellar. When he first started buying, he bought only French wines, but this has changed. "It's more interesting for me to focus on California wine, because I have a different perspective from before," he said.
Now that he has developed a taste for California Pinot Noir, he is making that too, sourcing grapes from such top vineyards as Sta. Rita Hills, Talley Rincon Vineyard, Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyard. Above, he's pouring a sample.
The four Pinots out now are from the 2012 vintage. The Sta Rita Hills Pinot is "a pretty big wine," Dolin said. It's deeper in color and flavor than the Talley Pinot. The Bien Nacido is full and fruity, beautiful to drink. The Solomon Hills wine is rounder and heavier in the mouth. "Normally, this is my wine of choice," Elliot said. "This is the one that got the big scores."
If there is anything Dolin enjoys as much as wine, it is the household's three Maltese terriers, Enzo, Alfie and Ruby (above), who joined him as he poured a final round. Official tasting over, he brought out a Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996, a second growth Bordeaux that made those of us who got to taste it as happy as his canine friends.