What We Have Been Drinking–Oct. 1st

2006 Siduri Pinot Noir Hawk’s View Vineyard: Retail ~$45. When I went down into the cellar to grab this bottle, I tried to remember when my first experience with Siduri. It took me a while. I have been a big fan of Adam Lee for many years now, which would have shocked the bejesus out of me when I first started getting into wine. My initial wine indoctrination took place almost exclusively in France, first when I was a student in Strasbourg and then later as a bike tour guide for several years. I developed into pretty much the definition of ‘French wine snob’. In fact, I was the worst kind of French wine snob–I was a Burgundy snob. For me, Pinot Noir was Burgundy, end of story. I had my life changing bottle (1976 Domaine Leroy Chambertin) on one of my bike trips through Burgundy.

That was it.

Fast forward several years. I had started buying some wine through online auctions and I was dabbling in domestic Pinot. I somehow landed a 2001 Siduri Clos Pepe Pinot Noir and it was magical. It was not a 1976 Leroy Chambertin, but it was not trying to be. The Siduri had fruit that I had never tasted in a Burgundy. Sure it was big, sure there was alcohol, but there was also balance. It was lively yet lithe, bombastic and bold but also refined and refreshing.

That was it (again).

I started reading a ton about new world Pinot, started going to Sonoma instead of Napa, made a trip to the Santa Rita Hills and my domestic Pinot mecca: Clos Pepe. I attended the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in Oregon. All the while I never quite understood all the hub-ub over the old world/new world debate (there are those that eschew the higher alcohol bigger fruit new world Pinot and those that bemoan the more restrained, earthier old world style). I just don’t get it–I love both styles. I tend to lean toward the more reserved styles that show better with food, but that is just my preference–I have no idea why so many people get worked up about it. Can’t you love both Mexican and French cuisine? Comedies and Drama? Blondes and Brunettes? (OK, that last one was only for demonstrative purposes, it has no reflection on me–very happily married–once in a while my wife does read my blog)

I must admit that the over extracted, syrupy style of some of the US Pinots holds no appeal for me–at IPNC I was very excited to have my first glass of Kosta Browne, one of the more difficult to find (and expensive) domestic Pinots and I dumped it after a couple of sips–just way too over the top for me. If it works for you, though, more power to you.

From my limited experience, few embrace the new world style better than Adam Lee at Siduri. He seems to make wines that celebrate what the fruit offers over here, but stops short of the over-the-top fruit bomb that seemed to be in vogue for a bit. His wines are big, but still work seamlessly at the dinner table, which is a must for me.

The Hawk’s View was fantastic–nice berry fruit, particularly black cherry, up front with plenty of stuffing and acidity on the back end. Perhaps the few years of age on it caused the fruit to subside just a bit and further showed the balance beneath. It was a very nice pairing for our corn bread encrusted pork loin. Excellent to Outstanding. 90-92 points.

2006 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Aubaine Vineyard: Retail ~$45. I have less experience with Brian Loring’s wines but I am developing into a fan of his as well. Perhaps more than Adam, Brian has taken a bit of heat (no pun intended) for crafting bigger, fruitier (and higher alcohol or ‘hotter’) Pinots than the purists deem acceptable. Brian does not hide from the fact that he likes wines that are big and fruity and he states unabashedly that his Pinots should be consumed (by and large) sooner rather than later. Most of the Loring Pinots I have tasted have been from ‘off’ years (like 2006), when the powers that be declare that for what ever reason, the wines are not quite up to snuff. Well, we all really enjoyed this 2006 Aubaine. Perhaps not as complex as the Siduri at this stage in life, but still petulant and invigorating. Nice cherry and raspberry with a bit of strawberry Twizzler (I love Twizzlers) on the finish. Excellent. 88-90 points.

A few quick hitters:

N.V. Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Rosé: Retail $15. This continues to wow me with vibrant red fruit, great effervescence, and ample acidity. Our house sparkler (and it should be yours, too). 89-91 points.

2005 Hannah Nicole Meritage: Retail ~$20? Thin and not very expressive. Meh. Disappointing after visiting the winery this Spring and coming away impressed. 83-85 points.

2003 Matrot-Wittersheim Meursault: Retail ~$35. Sadly, this was not good, almost ‘bad’. Still finished it since I am a cheap bastard (and like to understand what can happen to wine when as it ages). Happily, though, this was the last bottle. Average (and that is kind). 78-80 points.

2005 Point Concepción Syrah Cuvée Jalama: Retail ~$18-20. I have written about this wine here before and it continues to wow me. Not as fruity as the Tallulah, but every bit as expressive. Maybe the best domestic Syrah when it comes to being a ‘food wine’ that I can remember having. Peter Cargasacchi is another wine maker I would like to meet. Outstanding. 90-92 points.

2005 Erna Schein Jersey Boy: Retail ~$50. I ‘won’ this from at the auction for my son’s school a few years ago. This is a wine that seems like it should have been consumed right away. I likely would have hated it then since I imagine it was a big fruit bomb (and high in alcohol). Well, the fruit had largely faded. Sadly, the alcohol hadn’t. Better without the Vinturi (by a lot), which saved it. Good. 84-86 points.

2006 Tallulah Syrah Bald Mountain Ranch: Retail ~$22-25? Listen to me closely–if you see a Tallulah wine out there, BUY IT. I have never had a bottle of Tallulah that was not fantastic. I have never met Mike Drash (owner/winemaker) but I am putting him on the list. Big, rich, creamy fruit with plenty of backbone. Bought a case of this to share but will likely keep it all. Excellent to Outstanding. 90-92 points.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Since I pretty much knew what I was getting with the Siduri,  I am choosing the Tallulah for the wine of the week.  I recently purchased some of his Chardonnay as well and will be sure to let you know about it when we pop one.

What was your wine of the week?

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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10 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking–Oct. 1st

  1. thefoodandwinehedonist says:

    Count me in Team old world style. A lot of subtleties get list in fruit bombs. And overextraction can hide winemaker shortcomings. I had a 06 Loring I pd $60 and thought it was good for the style. Not sure if it was worth that much. Interesting name – Naylor Dry Hole Vineyard.

    Had 00 ch de la coste Margaux on Fri. Was great, but completely overshadowed by the 02 Gevrey Chambertin. Outstanding.

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    • But how do you feel about New World Pinots in more of an Old World style? Or even more precisely, something that falls in between (like I think Siduri does)?

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      • I’ve wanted to try Siduri, but it sounds like I’d like it.. side note – I’ve had a few New Zealand Pinots and I’ve really liked those a lot. Def. OW-style…

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      • Siduri is certainly a ‘gateway drug’ to get into the more CA style. There are tons of wines that really embrace the reserved style while still being Californian: Skewis, Freeman, Littorai, Hirsch, Flowers, B. Kosuge come to mind right away. Then there are the Oregonian Pinots which are outstanding as well (De Ponte, Argyle, Bergstrom, Brick House, Ayres, Patti Green, and my new best buds, Penner-Ash–far too many to get into here!).

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  2. I prefer the pinots from Burgundy as well. I am trying my way into the US pinots, and have not been impressed yet.

    In Germany, German grown pinot noir (which is called Spätburgunder, or “Late Burgundy”, probably referring to the time when the grapes are ripe) is becoming more and more popular. It seems to be in between the fruit bombs one can find in the States and the earthier Burgundy pinots. I still often struggled with them, because I know what I am looking for in a pinot noir, and that is less fruit and tons of balance.

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    • I would expect nothing less from a native ‘old worlder’ 😉 There are plenty of CA and OR Pinots out there that are more reserved and in no way fruit bombs. They just come from a different terroir and reflect that.

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      • Have you had a German pinot noir? I am not even sure they export them. There is, interestingly enough, one wine area in Germany, a tiny, tiny one just south of Bonn, called the “Ahr” after the creek that flows through it. That region almost exclusively makes red wine, some stunning pinot noirs come from there…names like Jean Stodden, Meyer-Naekel, Deutzerhof…if you come across one, pick one up.

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      • Will not likely come across one here in PA, so sounds like a reason to get back to A^2! I’ll bring some old world style wines from the new world!

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  3. aFrankAngle says:

    Being relatively new here, you have good tastes! We enjoy pinots as well … prefer Cal, Oregon, and NZ.

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