Wine of the Week: 2010 Big Basin Vineyards, Alfaro Family Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains

“If we sip the wine, we find dreams coming upon us out of the imminent night”  D.H. Lawrence

Mr. Lawrence may say sip, but honestly, I prefer to slurp. With that awful picture planted firmly in your mind, good [late] afternoon to you all, and welcome to the "Wine of the Week" Friday edition. I discovered this gem last during a #WineChat I participated in, where there was a grape discussion about the fantastic 'juice' being poured in tasting rooms all over the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you've not been to the area before, may I highly recommend, that you make plans to do so soon.

I say this with some hesitation because it's not so 'manly,' but I literally did swoon [no not kidding] with delight over the three different selections of Pinot Noir, being poured, tasted and discussed during a #winechat conversation focusing on Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA. That's not something I usually do either, typically I'll find at least one wine in a tasting lineup to make me wanna 'crinkle' my nose and sigh, but these wines wouldn't allow me to have any of that last night; instead, my palate was doing the happy dance.

Sad to say and hard to admit, but this was my first experience with this fantastic example of Santa Cruz Mountain AVA Pinot Noir, it was a sheer pleasure. An AVA whose credentials date back to 1981 when it was 'officially' recognized as an AVA by the regulating authority. But there has been vineyards and winemaking going on in this region for over a hundred years, with a foot in both pre and post prohibition.

It's a widely diverse growing climate, with 1300 hundred acres devoted to wine-grape growing, everything from Zinfandel to Pinot Noir, much of it depending on the microclimates. The entire AVA is a whopping 480,000 acres with a good stretch of it along the California coast. Big Basin Vineyards, near the Big Basin Redwood State Park, got their start in 1998, modernizing what was previously a vineyard site sold to timber interests.

Today, it is a thriving winery, focused on producing "mountain' style Pinot Noir. A whopping ninety percent of the estate is still in its 'natural' state, while the remaining ten percent, including the olive groves, are certified 'Organic' by CCOF.

The nose straight from the bottle was complex yet very inviting perfume, cranberry, brown sugar, wet-earth and loads of baking spices. After the first pour, a bright colored core of strawberry and red raspberry invite the first sip. Diving into the glass, inviting aromas of baking spices, a slap of new summer cherries, wild cranberries and sandalwood.

"The steep hillsides, cooling ocean breezes and fog, and mountain soils promote the development of color and complex flavors." Bradley Brown

On the palate a truckload of finesse coupled together with opulent fruit, which hangs nicely on a canvas of firm acid and delicate tannins [texture baby]. This wine is sleek and elegant showcasing a mix of dried cherry, strawberry jam fused with a touch of spice and toasty oak nuances, leading to a gorgeous, long-lasting finish. I cooked up a little wild-caught sockeye salmon action, prepared with a highly coveted recipe and some other tasty fixin's [which you see below]. Then Mrs. Cuvee and I were off to the pool don't you know, where we were "Swimming in a Pinot Pairing Paradise" the title for my new book, don't ya know. 

This is the type of quality juice that has me wanting to oddly jump inside the bottle to slurp up the remainder, and I do that via what I call bottle tipping. What is that you ask, oh that's simple that's just me laying the [nearly empty] bottle on its side which causes it to pool so I may get those last few precious drops into my glass. Oh, by the way, it paired oh-so marvelously with our Salmon-Bake. To say this wine was good would be a vast understatement because it did in fact "wow" my socks off.

The winemaking team at Big Basin, go through a considerable amount of effort to make their wines stand out and stand out they do. At least speaking for what must be one of their flagship and/or signatures Pinot Noir selections. It is an 'allocated' wine [lucky wine club members only] and is also a super-small production, just 22 cases or 6 barrels produced. I scored this wine 93 points and highly recommend you give it a swirl. Echoing my favorite catchphrase, "you can pay more, but rarely do you get more" and when it comes to #wine, it could not be more accurate.

Hopefully there still a few spots open on their allocation list, if not, there's always the waiting list, I wish you good luck. Personally, I think it's worth the effort. Okay, folks, that's all I've got for today until next time remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: The wine in today's review was sent as a sample.


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