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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pinot Days Report: My Top Ten List

Well the Pinot Days event has come and gone, we [the media] were rushed in and given 2 hours to visit and taste as many different wines as we possibly could. While the event boasts wines from around the world, I frankly didn't see to many wines "from around the world" being poured or represented at the Barker Hanger event.

That meant lots of swirling, sniffing and spitting out, while scrambling to make it to as many producers as possible. So it I ended up only tasting through about 15 different producers before I was bounced outta there, like a cheap date. I think this is the first time I was given a time limit at an event like this, before the hook came in to pull me outta there like a lousy wanna-be comic on open-mic nite.

But I did get the opportunity to meet some really great producers [over 90% from California] and sample some very delicious Pinot Noirs. Of course I had a few favorites and some other of whom I expected big things from, [a few I won't mention] that really didn't have the impact I thought they would. But of course you can't nail every vintage and winemakers change wineries quicker than a game of musical chairs. That said here below is my short and sweet Top Ten Pinot Noir list from this past weekends Pinot Days event, I hope you'll give these wines a swirl.

The first winery which made me say wow, was a little place called Paraiso Vineyards. Paraiso's has a 400-acre estate vineyard which lies just at the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County, Ca. A winery whose tasting room, I later discovered is right [nearly] off 101 in Soledad, that sits on the edge of the Santa Lucia Bench, in the midst of their estate vineyard. They were pouring three wines that day:  I tasted their 2008 SLH Estate that sells for $25, their 2007 West Terrace selling for $40 [clones 667 & 777] and their 2007 Faite, which sells for $65 [clones 115 & 777].

1. The 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands: I scored this wine 91 points. Fully flavored and balanced with firm acidity. Seducing aromas draw you in again and again, a winetastic experience. A wonderfully style driven Pinot Noir, that will pair with many types of food and is great on its own. Expressive aromas and enticing flavors await your purchase. Definitely worth the price of admission. Other Voices: The International Wine Review gave them 90 points.

UPDATE------UPDATE------UPDATE-------UPDATE
Purchase Alert: I just found out today that there's one Costco in San Diego carrying this fantastic PN and selling it for a winetastic price, if you'd like to know which one please post a comment below and I will promptly get you the juicy details.

2. The 2007 Pinot Noir, West Terrace [SLH]: I scored this wine 92 points. This generous wine is truly substantial. Vivid, complex aromas embrace the senses, while dark plums, ripe black fruit and soft cola and vanilla spices draw meld effortlessly on the palate. Plush.

3. Their flagship wine, the 2007 Faite Pinot Noir, [SLH]: I scored this wine 94 points. Elegant ripe fruit, supple tannins and vibrant acidity, an amazing complexity. Folks this wine is a stunner. You'll definitely want to grab a few of these before there gone, as they are down to their last 12 cases. A run don't walk buy recommendation.

The next winery to knock my socks off was a little placed called Belle Glos, whose vineyard locations can all be described as coastal. The wines are made under the same roof as the well known Caymus label in Rutherford.  Where their winemaker [the young] Joseph Wagner is able to distill some very elegant expressions of California Pinot Noir. So at first blush these are the scores I came up with, based on just a small sampling.

4. The 2008 Taylor Lane Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir: Whoa what a stunner, selling in the medium to high price range of $44, I gave this wine a score of 94 points. A purchase now, drink one and cellar three or four for maximum enjoyment kind of wine. Best through 2012-2014.

5. The 2009 Las Alturas Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County: This was one just needs a little more time in the bottle, but it will be another stunner in a year or two with proper cellaring. I gave this wine an initial score of 91 points. Selling for $44. Best through 2012 - 2016.

6. The 2008 Clark and Telephone Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, SBC: Ripe, with a full baking spice backbone and good acidity to carry the low hanging fruit. This wine is ready and eager to please right out of the gate. I scored this wine 92 points and give it a drink now and drink often recommendation. Selling for around the $44 price range. Grab it before this one is all gone.



7. The 2008 Siduri Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir: This Pinot was I sampled toward the end of the day, but obviously had a enough substance to still wow an over indulged palate. The wonderful folks at Siduri Wines produced yet another winetastic Pinot Noir, geez what's new. Opens with wonderful aromas of sweet baking spices, tea and rose petals, immediately followed an amazing attack of rich fruit flavors on the palate, framed my fined grained tannins and solid acidity.  I scored this wine a solid 92 points. This wine is selling for somewhere between $25 and $40, but not entirely sure as I was not able to ascertain the price.

8. Belle Glos 2007 Pinot Noir Meiomi Sonoma Coast (Caymus): The next wine is a wonderful expression of Pinot Noir for a winetastically low price; which is the 2008 Meiomi. It's pronounced May-oh-mee and you can get this beauty at your local San Diego Costco. Not sure if any other Costco carries this wine, but if you happen to be shopping in San Diego and are looking for a inexpensive well built Pinot Noir, folks this it. It definitely won't break the bank, but it will feel like you're robbing the bank. Expressive baking spices, ripe fruit aromas abound and a silky mouth-feel. I immediately scored this wonderful wine 93 points. Why the high score, good question, because this wine tastes like it cost way more than the price tag, but you could pay way more than the Costco asking price of some $17, as it is available online at a eye-popping $22. Either way the QPR is off the charts!

9.  The 2007 Fort Ross Symposium Pinot Noir: Moving onto the Fort Ross, damn fine Pinot! Folks if you love Pinot Noir the folks at Fort Ross are not to be missed. I've already reviewed their 2007 Sonoma Coast, which was off the charts. But what you may not be familiar is the Fort Ross 2007 Symposium that has a 4% blend of Pinotage. Black Cherry and raspberry mingle nicely together with nutmeg and vanilla flavors. Damn fine bottle of wine for the price, which I gave a score of 90 points.You can pick up this bottle of wine at BevMo for $32.

10. 2007 Etude Pinot Noir Temblor Estate Carneros: Last but certainly not the least a place where you can get an Etude. Many of you Pinot fanatics are already very familiar with them, but one that should not be missed is their 2007 Temblor, unfortunately appears to be sold out [boo, hiss]. Wow, that is frustrating bringing a wine like that to Pinot Days, which is already sold out. Sorry folks I had no idea, but it was a fantastic wine that I gave 91 points and it made me say wow, which was my first impression.

The price per bottle made me cringe a bit, though. I mean c'mon $60 per bottle, really?. Get real folks because Stehpen Tanzer gave this wine a mere 90 points, meaning the price admission is a bit high. However, many folks bought it $60 bones each, must have been folks far above my pay-grade [geez] and according to their website is sold out. It was definitely a winetastic bottle of vino. Maybe the 2008 will be just as spatacular, just will have to wait and see.

I would have given it a higher score, but the price held me back. If you look at their portfolio, many of their wines prices off the chart in terms of just how expensive I find them to be, not your everyday drinkers. But what's expensive to me, may be a paltry sum to others. Don't get me wrong here, I love many of their wines, however at those prices [for me] their wines fall far outside of the "everyday" wine category.

Full Disclosure: I almost forgot to mention that I was comped admission to this event. So yes FCC, my sampling fee was waived.

Well folks that is all for now, I hope you will go out and enjoy many of these wines. Until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!
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