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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Cold Climate Pinot Noirs - October 22, 2012

We tried last night (10/22/12) w/ my SantaFe group Some Cold Climate PinotNoirs:

  1. Peay PinotNoir ScallopShelf Estate/SonomaCoast (13.6%) 2008: Med.color; bit earthy/dusty some toasty/oak/smokey light Pinot/floral nose; tart some earthy/dusty fairly smokey/toasty/oak light black cherry/PN/floral flavor w/ fairly smooth tannins; med.long somewhat earthy/dusty light black cherry/PN some smokey/oak finish w/ light tannins; moving right along but seems to lack some fruit and not developing much complexity; dominated by the oak & earthy/dusty character. $48.00
  2. Peay PinotNoir ScallopShelf Estate/SonomaCoast (13.8%; 850 cs) 2009: Med.color; strong bright black cherry/PN/ floral/violets bit smokey/oak very pretty/attractive nose; tart bright/cherry/PN/floral/spicy light toasty/oak flavor w/ firm/smooth tannins; very long bright cherry/bright/PN/floral/violets light smokey/oak finish w/ fine-grained tannins; lots of bright cherry/PN fruit; my favorite of the Peays. $54.00
  3. Peay PinotNoir Pomariam Estate/SonomaCoast (14.1%) 2009: Med.color; strong fragrant/black cherry/PN bit spicy/ hair oil/perfumed slight smokey/pungent/oak nose; less tart earthy/dusty/black cherry/PN/pungent light smokey/ oak/toasty flavor w/ light tannins; long slight earthy/dusty rather fragrant/spicy/hair oil strong spicy/ black cherry/PN/cherry light smokey/pungent/oak finish w/ modest tannins; lots of bright/spicy character. $54.00
  4. Peay PinotNoir Ama Estate/SonomaCoast (14.2%; 650 cs) 2009: Med.color; fairly strong cherry/black cherry/PN/ cherry cola light floral/violets/spicy light toasty/oak light earthy/dusty rather perfumed nose; fairly tart bit richer/more earthy/dusty strong black cherry/PN/black cherry cola bit toasty/pungent/oak flavor w/ bigger tannins; long deep/black cherry/PN/cherry cola light toasty/smokey/oak light earthy/floral/violets finish w/ fair tannins; much like ScallopShelf '09 but a bit bigger and not as bright/vibrant. $46.00
  5. Peay PinotNoir SonomaCoast (13.5%) 2009: Med.light color; bit earthy light fragrant/black cherry/PN some toasty/oak bit quotidian Pinot nose; softer simple/black cherry/PN some toasty/smokey/oak flavor w/ light tannins; med. black cherry/PN/earthy some toasty/charred/oak finish w/ soft/light tannins; seems on the simple side compared to the other Peays and not the bright/zippy fruit. $40.00
  6. Failla PinotNoir PeayVnyd/SonomaCoast (13.2%; 200 cs; Drk: 10/17-10/20: EJ) 2007: Med.color; bit earthier/ coarser (than the Peays) less fragrant/perfumed light black cherry/PN/black cherry cola some toasty/charred/oak pleasant enough nose; fairly tart rather toasty/oak/charred some black cherry/PN/cola bit earthy flavor w/ some tannins still showing; long bit tannic/hard strong taosty/oak/charred some black cherry/PN/cola finish; quite a tasty Pinot but not the soaring fragrance and brightness I was expecting from a Peay. $52.50
  7. Failla PinotNoir OccidentalRidgeVnyd/SonomaCoast (14.1%; 500 cs; Drk: 10/17-10/20: EJ) 2008: Med.color; strong smokey/toasty/oak ripe/black cherry/PN slight earthy/dusty some complex/fragrant nose; bit softer strong black cherry/PN/earthy/cherry some toasty/smokey/oak slight earthy flavor w/ some tannins; very long/ lingering strong black cherry/PN/cherry cola light earthy bit tannic/hard some toasty/charred/oak bit complex finish; lots of black cherry cola Pinot fruit and toasty/oak; needs another 3-6 yrs; easily my favorite of the Faillas. $64.50
  8. Failla PinotNoir Vivien SonomaCoast (14.1%; 100 cs; Hirsch/OccidentalRidge/Keefer vnyds;
    100 cs; Drk: 10/17-10/20: EJ) 2007
    : Med.light color; lighter less toasty/charred/oak light/spicy/black cherry/ PN light toasty/pencilly/oak some complex nose; tart slight pungent/licorice/earthy some black cherry/cherry/PN light pencilly/toasty/oak more elegant/polished/refined flavor w/ modest tannins; very long some cherry/black cherry/PN light toasty/pencilly/oak slight earthy/pungent rather complex finish w/ modest tannins; seems more restrained/elegant and maybe a bit more Burgundian than the other Faillas; quite a lovely Pinot but a bit on the pricey side. $79.50
  9. Drew PinotNoir MorningDewVnyd/AndersonVlly (13.5%; RochioliSlctn/DRC Clone/828 clone;
    LaTache field slctn; 165 cs) 2010
    : Med.light color; very fragrant/perfumed bright/cherry/PN/ cranberry/spicy very light pencilly/oak very attractive nose; fairly tart bit lean/austere bright cherry/PN/spicy/cranberry light pencilly/oak flavor w/ light tannins; long bright/cherry/PN/cranberry/spicy light pencilly/oak slight earthy finish w/ light tannins; much more restrained/balanced the the Valenti w/ plenty of bright/cherry/cranberry fruit; quite a pretty Pinot but just that. $47.00
  10. Drew PinotNoir ValentiVnyd/MendocinoRidge (72 cs; 13.4%) 2009: Med.color; bit funky/earthy/Burgundian character at first that blew off mostly; deeper black cherry/PN/black cherry cola richer/earthy nose w/ very light toasty/oak and a bit more ripeness; rather tart fairly big/structured/earthy light black cherry/ PN/cola somewhat tannic richer/riper/almost coarse less bright flavor w/ fair tannins; long rather big/rough/ burly/blocky some black cherry/PN very light toasty/oak finish; not the pretty/bright/cherry fruit of the MorningDew; needs some age but a bit on the blocky/clunky side. $40.00

And the usual BloodyPulpit:

1. These Pinots were pretty much what I had expected in terms of style. I was a bit disappointed in them, across the board, as I had expected a bit more development and evolution. They were good/solid/very attractive Pinots but was just expecting to be dazzled by a few of them..I was not.

Overall, I liked the Peays the best...pretty classic Peay in style w/ good/bright acidity, plenty of bright fruit, and a nice/restrained touch of oak. The Faillas were pretty typical of Failla...fairly big/rich, some noticible oak, fair amount of tannins; need some age I think to really show their stuff. I was a bit disappointed in the Vivien, particularly for the price. This was a barrel select and was certainly a bigger/richer/more oaked wine that needs more age. It may evolve into something pretty special, though. JasonDrew focuses on making wines of "restraint"...picking earlier/lower alcohols. These were certainly the most balanced & restrained of this batch of Pinots in a quiet/understated way...but they had plenty of flavor and were a pleasure to drink. If big/bombastic Pinots are your thing...you'll find the Drew's to be lacking.
2. Cold-Climate PinotNoir: This tasting was structured to be a tasting of PinotNoirs from some of my favorite producers from cold-climate vnyds. I was hoping to show a commonality of cold-climate Pinots. It was not there that I could identify. The wines all had a certain tartness to them that'd you'd expect from cold climes. But I thought the winemaking styles may have obliterated any common smells or tastes. But...wait...we've been told by the wine glitterati that PinotNoir displays its terroir more than any other grape variety. But..wait... we've been told that same thing about Nebbiolo. But...wait....we've been told that same thing about Riesling. But...wait....we've just been told by Heimhoff that NapaVlly Cabernet displays terroir better than PinotNoir. But, to my palate...a palate that has been seriously compromised by yrs of mastadon steaks and high-octane late harvest Zinfandel...I find that cold-climate Syrah displays a more distinct cold-climate signature.. a signature of olive tapenade/cracked black pepper/roasted espresso...than PinotNoir. At least this batch of them.


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