Four Domestic Pinots
Last night three of us had dinner at Bandera (love the $0 corkage policy!) and opened these four pinots. Note, we did not have “proper” i.e. burgundy glasses stemware.
’04 Patton Valley – of the four we tasted, this was the most restrained in terms of bouquet and fruit. Soft tannins, dark berries with an elegant finish.
’05 Anthill Farms Peter’s Vineyard – sourced from a Sonoma Coast vineyard; loads of cherry and raspberry in the nose and a little touch of earth. This was the first bottle we drained. Delicious now, but will be much better with a few more years in the bottle..
’05 Gary Farrell RRV – deep red hues veering towards purple; as you’d guess from the color, very extracted, ripe wine with forward red/black berry flavors and ample oak. Compared side by side with the Foxen, these were very close in terms of color, smell and taste. Surprising to me since the RRV pinots I drink aren’t this opulent.
’04 Foxen – very dark pinot, extremely fruit forward; classic, brash central coast “in-your-face” pinot. This was the last bottle we finished; not saying we didn’t enjoy it, but its heaviness was a little overpowering
After I finish crying for your having drunk these Pinots too young, I would
say that in defense of the 2004 Foxen, it needs about 5 years to be acceptable as a truly lovely Pinot Noir. Remember that in 2004, a hot spell ripened the fruit all at once.
Tough time for winemakers. Revisit this wine in 2010-2012.
All right, if we're doing TNs on domestic pinots, let me throw a few recent ones out there ->
2006 WH Smith Sonoma Coast (the "base" bottling, not the Maritime) - Translucent garnet color. Classic pinot nose with just a tiny hint of funk which quickly blew off. Light-medium weight, with cherry and other red fruits and some minerally, wet stone notes toward the back end.
2003 Willakenzie Aliette - Layers of raspberry and darker berries mingle on the nose and the palate. Smooth and supple with a stony finish overlayed with hints of sweet spice.
2005 Melville Terraces - Bright clear ruby color. Upon first opening this seemed really closed so I let it sit for a couple hours and came back to it. Nose is rather earthy and a touch stemmy rather than fruity, with hints of smoked meat coming out over time. Fairly soft entry on the palate, with creamy blueberry followed by chewier cherry and more earth and mineral notes. Feels like it needs some time to come together.
2004 Elk Cove Richmond - Wow - even better than I recall from tasting at the winery. A hint of pinot funk, layers of spice (nutmeg, sandalwood, white pepper), soft fruit and wonderful balance.
2005 Sea Smoke Southing - Opened about 3 hours before pouring. On first sniff and sip, there's gobs of dark fruits, incense spices, and a wall of firm oak on the finish. With a little time in the glass it starts to open up further, with the oaky finish rounding out some and the spice notes gaining in complexity, giving hints of smokiness. Very big and when tasted blind not immediately recognizable as a pinot. Will need some time.
Edited to add - the WH Smith for under $30 struck me as a relative bargain. I've got some of the Maritime as well which is almost twice that.
Funny you should ask that. I copied these notes over from cellatracker, and they were taken over a few weeks rather than at one time. Sitting here right now, I had no particular recollection of that being my favorite, but reading them all together at once, that would certainly seem to be the case. For drinking right now, that'd probably be right. With a few years of bottle age, the Sea Smoke might surpass it.