Graff Family Vineyards 2007 Pinot Blanc (Chalone) – 14.3%. Recognizably pinot blanc, in its apricot (plus apricot skin) and dulled bronze way, but this is a little drenched and weighty for the grape, and despite entirely decent acidity, the relatively minor layer of oak offsets any brightness or lightness the wine could use to combat that weight. I don’t want to overstate the criticism, however, because it’s a perfectly decent wine. (1/10)
Loring 2004 Pinot Noir Brosseau (Chalone) – Red-black fruit, soupy and searingly alcoholic. More like a harsh, grappa-infused berry liqueur than wine, and not a particularly balanced one as well. The next day, however, the alcohol has calmed down somewhat…perhaps a nice sweet rum rather than grappa…which makes it a little less painful to drink. But it’s still profoundly imbalanced. (12/06)
Faiveley 1993 Gevrey-Chambertin (Burgundy) – The aromatics (old berries, forest floor, fresh morels) are muscular and enticing, but the wine is wan and decrepit, leaving only a dried-out, scratchy tannin and in its wake. Twenty-four hours later, the palate has made a little bit of a recovery, with some emergent red fruit peeking out of the grave. Unfortunately, it soon doesn’t much matter, as a “sherrying” of the wine eventually buries the improvement once and for all. (12/06)
(The original version is here …)
23 April 2006 –Berkeley, California
Wine tasting in Berkeley (con’t)
Harrington Pinot Noir Rosé (appellation unknown) – “Just for fun” announces our pourer – I assume without evidence that he’s the Bryan that lends his last name to Harrington, the second winery at this tasting – and fun it is, with big, giggly strawberry fruit. It’s in an unlabeled bottle, and no information other than its cépage is forthcoming, but it’s a bit of a shame it’s not for sale. I’d buy it.
Harrington 2002 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – Orange rind, red cherry and strawberry seeds; sweetly pretty, though simple.
Harrington 2003 Pinot Noir Birkmyer (Wild Horse Valley) – Sweet plum, strawberry and rhubarb with some structure and a long, metallic/iron flake finish. Nice acidity, too. This ends up being my favorite of the entire lineup.
Harrington 2003 Pinot Noir Hirsch (Sonoma Coast) – A rough nose, perhaps with slightly burnt notes, opens up to a somewhat hard, watermelon-shaped wine. I’d like more finish (and more attack, even in the lighter-entried pinot noir sense), and in general I’d like better fruit. I do note, however, than most of my fellow tasters seem to regard this wine as one of the best, so maybe I’ve misjudged it.
Harrington 2004 Pinot Noir Brosseau (Chalone) – Thick, meaty and heavy, showing chunky peanut butter and big tannin. A sticky wine, more akin to a paste than a pinot.
Harrington 2004 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – Full-bodied cherry and blueberry with a long, juicy finish made ever so slightly edgy by a stemmy note. Almost really nice.
Harrington 2004 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown (barrel sample) (Sonoma County) – From a decanter. There’s huge fruit here – blueberry and black cherry – with fair acidity; a “fruit bomb” with at least one redeeming quality. Moreover, it doesn’t taste particularly spoofulated, just explosive. People of a certain taste will love this, assuming it holds form through bottling.