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I was lucky enough to be treated to a PHENOMENAL bottle of Napa pinot yesterday called Kistler, Cuvee Barbara, 2003. OH WOW.... Truly one of the best pinots I think has ever passed my lips. Round, bordeaux-like, heavy chocolate. They sell in some upscale restaurants like L'Orangerie and Grace, but bottles are only available via their mailing list. Can't wait to get my paws on more of that...

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  1. I would be upset if a Pinot Noir was Bordeaux like, b\perhaps you meant Burgandian. Kistler is a fantastic PN, and like you said, for the most part available only by mailing list. If you liked it, you should try to find some Kosta Browne A.P. Vin, Radio-Coteau, Loring, etc.(all are also only mailing list) Or loook for some of the Siduri, DuMol, or Goldeneye, less expensive are Arcacia, Marimar Torres, Patz and Hall, etc.

    The truth is, wines like Kistler are made in small quantity and are normally only available by mailing list or at very high prices at select restaurants and some high end shops. I am on about 10 lists and end up spending a lot to get what I consider to be the best PNs you can buy for the money.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dinwiddie

      Glad to see you're "up and running" on the nu Chowhound. I always enjoy your knowledgeable comments about wine, even though I'm just a casual wine drinker.

      1. re: dinwiddie

        I"m still learning about wine also and don't know the difference between a bordeaux and burgandian style...but now that you say that I believe you were correct. I found that info on their website. Thanks for the suggestions! I just found this little wine shop in the netherlands of the valley yesterday and spent $700 on two cases of all kinds of new wines. I sat in my garage (aka the cellar) last night cataloging everything in www.manageyourcellar.com... what fun. I looked up every wine, got reviews, descriptions, etc. I can't wait to taste them now. I will check out your suggestions. Why do you call yourself "dinwiddie." Gotta be a story there....

      2. You sure Kistler makes a Cuvee Barbara PN? Cuvee Elizabeth and Catherine, yes.

        Also, Kistler makes all their wines from Sonoma fruit, not Napa.

        1. Kistler does indeed make great juice, but one shouldn't get too excited about getting on their mailing list. Although you'll get a mailer on the very next cycle, their minimum purchase is a case, which with shipping will add up to around $1000. Additionally, most of their production is Chardonnay--also great--and you will be required to buy tons of it before you ever get offered the chance to buy their best pinot noirs. And if you don't place an order on the first offer, you'll be dropped from the list.

          Best bet if you like the stuff is to buy a bottle or two at the astronomical retail markup that shops who manage to get it command--you'll still spend way less money all told and get what you want.

          1. Larry is correct in the names of the Kistler PNs. In the 2003 vintage they made the Kistler Vineyard Pinot Noir which sold on the mailing list at $75 per bottle, the Cuvée Catherine Pinot Noir at $90 per bottle, and the Cuvée Elizabeth Pinot Noir $90 per bottle. In a wine shop they would probably go for much more since there is a lot of demand for a little amount of wine.

            BTW, their Chardonneys are excellent too, and easier to obtain. But they too are expensive.

            Kistler does use some Napa fruit, but I think it is limited to their Chardonneys namly their Hudson Vineyard bottling although they do make a Carneros PN on occasion that may use Napa fruit. The winery is in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, where in my opinion, some of the very best CA PNs are made.

            Id also agree about not trying to get on the mailing list. Find someone who is already on it and see if they will let you buy part of thier allocation.

            1. As a fan of Kistler PN, I was interested to read this thread. I, too, would like to get my hands on the stuff, but my location in Germany complicates the matter somewhat. Does anyone knowledgeable have an apt comparison to a European wine that borders on Kistler's deliciosity?
              Much obliged to know, as the shakes are setting in...

              2 Replies
              1. re: baseev

                hello, if I lived in the great deutsche republik I'd travel to Burgundy and taste the reds and whites in situ with the native cuisine (been told by a French native that no region of France has a greater love of wine and food, which I thought was a major admission). The Cali winemakers justify their prices partly based on what they fancy their French counterparts try to get for 'comparable' products. cheers

                1. re: moto

                  baseev is correct, go to Burgundy and taste the wines. You will find delicious Pinot Noirs, but they will not be like Kistlers for the simple reason that they are Burgandies and not Sonoma CA PNs. Different terrior, and different style, but delicious none the less. Of course, Burgandies can be extremely expensive, especially ones that are of the same level of rarity and desireability as Kistlers are here.

              2. Well of course you all are right. My proximity to France does invite this, but I was hoping for more of an immediate fix. A huge difference between the burgundies I've tried and Kistler is the weight and depth of the fruit. This is the winemaking style of many California PN and, I would argue, many other California reds. European wines just don't have that style. So what I was looking for was a suggestion for a PN that had that style. But I suppose it's a fruitless search! (pardon my pun).

                2 Replies
                1. re: baseev

                  Actually the weight of many Calif. PNs is getting closer to Cote Rotie, so you may want to look a bit southward for that style!

                  When I was in Burgundy in March I tasted a number of 2003s red Corton Grand Crus that reminded me of Carneros Pinot Noir in their plush fruit, high alcohols, and ripe acidity, but with much more complexity. Some of those might suit you . . . sorry, my notebook is not at hand for specific recs.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I agree. 2003 was extremely hot in Europe, as you surely know, and the wines I've tried from that vintage are deeper, fuller bodied and have darker fruit notes than other vintages. Might be more to your liking.

                2. About 15 years ago I used to see Kistler in stores on the east coast, hardly ever do anymore. Sounds like great wine.

                  1. Thanks, Melanie, that's just the tip I was looking for. If you find your notes, do get back to me. I'm very curious. I've got a great little wine store nearby, but it's hard to compare if they've never been lucky enough to try Kistler. Most wine stores don't carry any California wines because they are really overpriced compared to European wines.