At last night’s tasting, we enjoyed five Pinot Noirs that represented California rather well, plus a sixth from the esteemed Bourgogne (Burgundy) region of France. This tasting presented some truly wonderful wines, and the results, though widely disparate, yielded 3 very good Pinot wines worth trying again.
Pinot Noir appears to be all the rage since Miles’ exclamations about it in the 2004 hit movie, “Sideways.” One thing’s for sure: there’s an increasing acreage of Pinot grapes being planted, farmed, vinted, and bottled from locations all over the globe. Their complex nature causes me to want to taste more of them, certainly, so I’m considering hosting future tastings wherein their origin – Willamette Valley, Bourgogne, Russian River, Santa Lucia Highlands, Hunter Valley — will figure prominently.
There were two clear stand-outs for me, and I scored one of them higher than I’ve ever scored any wine. Yet neither turned out to be the group favorite; an issue that may have resulted from 3 of my guests being relatively new to wine tasting and a fourth who had not scored a wine as formally as we did last evening. I felt that the group favorite was a little too young and therefore unresolved on balance. My fifth guest, Katie, possesses some knowledge and experience as a wine taster, and it turns out that my score and hers matched fairly evenly.
There was also one wine that ranked a -5 for the group – the lowest group score I can recall seeing in some time (the lowest possible score being a “-6″). Could it have been the relatively young age of the wine, or the winemaker?
Paired with our Pinot were a sourdough baguette and two Danish blue cheeses – one strong and crumbly, one creamy and more easily sliced.
The wines listed below are ranked top-down, most favorite to least favorite; each is followed by the wine’s heat, or alcohol content. In the left column is the actual group score for each wine using my handy-dandy Wine Scoring Sheet, which is based on the 20-point Davis scale. If no link exists for a particular label, that label is not, to the best of my research capabilities, available online. All are from California except the wine from Bourgogne, France.
+4 2005 Sterling Vintner’s Collection, Central Coast; 13.5%
+3 2004 Rvtz Cellars Maison Grand Cru, Russian River Valley; 14.5%
+3 2003 Heron, American Canyon, Napa County; 13.0%
-2 2004 Bouchaine, Carneros; 13.5%
-3 2001 Les Noizons Pommard, Jean-Luc Joillot; 13.5%
-5 2005 Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label, Monterey County; 13.5%
19 pts. 2003 Heron, American Canyon, Napa County
17 pts. 2004 Rvtz Cellars Maison Grand Cru, Russian River Valley
15.5 pts. 2005 Sterling Vintner’s Collection, Central Coast
15.5 pts. 2004 Bouchaine, Carneros
12 pts. 2001 Les Noizons Pommard, Jean-Luc Joillot; 13.5%
9.5 pts. 2005 Coppola Diamond Collection Silver Label, Monterey County
My picks were once again nominally consistent with the group’s, though I liked the smoky vanilla aspects of the Heron – my contribution.* To me, this wine had a subtle but enticing aroma all evening, plus a full, mouth-watering body (for a Pinot, that is), and an outstanding finish.
Special note to my dear Mom: thank you barrelfuls for your heartfelt efforts toward making my new bottle covers. They are a splash-hit, Mom, and I love you for making them! I owe you a fabulous gourmet dinner.
*I had actually received two bottles of the Heron from a wine club I recently joined, bottlenotes.com. Too bad they’re both gone now! But this wine is quite affordable at about 13 bucks a bottle. If you should join this club, please tell Alyssa I sent you. (Good pick, Alyssa!)