Wine of the Week: 2009 Paraiso West Terrace, Santa Lucia Highlands

After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. ~ John Steinbeck

Time for another wine of the week post, in today's review, is a fantastic bottle of Pinot Noir from Paraiso Vineyards. I discovered this gem while on a short road-trip to Monterey over the long Fourth of July weekend. Mrs. Cuvee and I had the great pleasure of visiting [SIP certified] Paraiso Vineyards on a hot, dry, windy day in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Visiting the winery from the Monterey is the best way to experience their wines and the region as a whole, in my opinion. While it's quite the long drive down River Road to their tasting room, you become immediately immersed in this area's agriculture aspects. Everywhere you look, you can smell, see and (if you wanted to) touch the agricultural pulse of this beautiful AVA. Heading south on River Road toward the winery, you have the mighty Pinnacles Range to your left and to the right rows and rows of vineyards snuggled against the highlands of the Santa Lucia Range.

We, my wife and I, arrived in the early afternoon, where we were warmly greeted by Mark behind the bar, who was enthusiastically chatting up another couple, who were enjoying their tasting experience. The tasting fee is a modest Abe Lincoln, one returned with a bottle purchase. It was quite the warm day in the valley, apparently uncharacteristically so. That warmth, unfortunately, crept into the tasting room, making it a bit difficult to get a sense of how the wines were tasting.

But having some previous great experiences with their wines, I was quite comfortable with scoring a couple. I said to Mrs. Cuvee "pick out a couple, that you like" which she eagerly did. One of those she picked was the "West Terrace" seen in the picture below.

As for me, I just wanted to get the wine back home to rest it in the cellar a bit before evaluating them further. Something which turned out to be a good move. I say that because uncorking that wine just the other night revealed a wine of pure beauty and elegance. I couldn't believe it was the same wine we sampled in the tasting room, but there it was.

Soon as you pop the cork, it jumps right up to meet and shake your hand. Seducing aromas draw you in, again and again, a pure Pinot Noir experience, even after the last drop has left the glass. A wonderfully style driven Pinot Noir, that will pair with many types of food and is excellent on its own.

A very generous Pinot Noir which comes dressed to impress, but one plumbed nicely with the right (Goldilocks Zone) balance of fruit to acid ratio. Bam, vivid, complex flavors embrace the senses, while dark plums, raspberries, ripe black fruit, soft cola and vanilla spices meld effortlessly on the palate, in a word it’s plush.

Expressive aromas and enticing flavors await your purchase and wine which is de­finitely worth the price of admission. I wouldn't sit on it too long, this 2009 is ready to go now and for the next year or two. This wine is awarded 93 points, purchased in the tasting for the price of $40. Until next time folks remember, life is short, savor every bottle uncorked, sip long and prosper cheers!


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