Category Archives: Santa Lucia Highlands

The Many Moods of Pinot Noir

So what are the different styles of Pinot Noir? Since so many growers and winemakers refer to it as a “fickle” grape, explaining that it is both hard to grow and often tricky to make wine out of, perhaps we should refer to the “moods” of Pinot rather than styles. Continue reading

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Santa Lucia Highlands Tasting: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Country

Santa Lucia Highlands is a relatively young appellation, one of eight Monterey County AVAs, established only in 1992. Over 46% of the appellation has been planted to Pinot Noir, and over 34% to Chardonnay. I’ve long been fascinated by this area as I think that at least three of its vineyards–Pisoni, Garys’ and Rosella’s–have to be considered grand crus for California Pinot Noir, based on their substantial track records and luscious, complex fruit. Continue reading

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2011 Family Winemakers San Francisco: New Finds and Great Wines by Old Favorites

The new finds for me that were most impressive were Alder Springs, Black Sears, Carica, Charnu, Delectus, Figge Cellars, Meander/Aiken and Sierra Madre Vineyard. On the value front, besides new producers (to me) Carica and Figge Cellars listed above, I can also recommend from this tasting Coastview, with their bargain priced Fieldfare and Le P’tit Paysan offerings; C.G. Di Arie, Croze/Smith Wooton; Field Recordings, whose prices are surprisingly low on very characterful wines; Field Stone and Silver Wines.
Spence (nice Howell Mountain Cabernet) Continue reading

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chardonnay, Napa, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma Coast, Syrah, Winemakers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2011 Pinot Days: 183 Wines from 65 Producers

So far, 2009s are showing expressive fruit and balance, with many producers having dialed back on the ripeness levels of two and three years ago. The regrettable trend that I wrote about last year, and that I’m continuing to see too many examples of, is high stem or whole cluster inclusion levels. Continue reading

Posted in California Wine, Oregon, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Santa Barbara, Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2010 Pinot Days Grand Tasting

2008 was a rough year for Pinot in California, due to the weather and fire related challenges. Due to the early and late frosts, drought conditions and severe storms in many parts of the state, some growers’ yields were greatly reduced. and it was a challenge to pick at a time not impacted by heavy rain or frost in a few places. Add to that the fires that ravaged thousands of acres in Southern California, the Central Coast, Napa and Anderson Valley, and you have the smoke effects on a lot of grapes too. Some chose to still produce wines from those areas, and to reduce the smoke effects (but also, inevitably, some of the other flavors) through reverse osmosis, while a couple of producers chose to unabashedly put out smoke tainted Pinot. And 2008 continued a trend since 2006 of picking earlier, aiming for lower alcohols and greater acidity, which is a wonderful trend in my opinion, but which also contributed to many ’08s (and ’07s too) being lighter bodied and higher in acid than Cali Pinots of the recent past. A trend I’m much less thrilled about is the increasing inclusion of whole clusters in California Pinot. Continue reading

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