Browse Tag

pinot noir

The rest of the Chorey

Drouhin 2006 Chorey-les-Beaune (Burgundy) – Dusty red fruit, trembling and just clinging. Far, far more advanced than a bottle from just a few months ago. Drink up. (5/12)

On and on

Fromm “La Strada” 2002 Pinot Noir (Marlborough) – Very, very mildly corked, but the wine is so stubborn and the TCA so hesitant that there’s actually something worth drinking here. But keep that mitigation in context, please, as you read the following: blackstrap cherry, a bit whippy and snarly, with lingering firm structural tannins and a long, columnar finish. In full form, this would have been a magisterial take on pinot-as-statuary. Alas. (2/12)

I Londer as I wander

Londer 2007 Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) – 14.4%. Were I one of those fruit-concentrate California winemakers who screech “geosmin!” at the slightest hint of earthiness, followed by “flaw!” immediately afterwards, I’d be inclined to do a lot of screeching at this wine, which is full of mushroomy, loamy earthen qualities. There’s some fruit, yes, but it’s baked-pie darkness subsumed by the soil and its own mostly fungal fruits. Do I like it? Yes, a fair bit, but it’s in no way impressive or special. (2/12)

The rest of the Chorey

Drouhin 2006 Chorey-les-Beaune (Burgundy) – Surprisingly mature, though I don’t know that one couldn’t hold it a little longer at need. Rough-cut earthfruit, strong in will but soft in texture, with gentled old red berries turning to amber, sumac, and fine dustings of earth. Starts, exists, finishes, with a little acidic abruptness to the finish (the only worrisome note, but also the aspect that keeps this a wine of its class rather than something greater). A very fine value Burgundy…and how often can anyone say that? (2/12)

Tied to the Hitching Post

Hartley Ostini “Hitching Post” 2006 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido (Santa Maria Valley) – Bruising. Only a vague sense of restraint (or fear) separates this from the punishing perils of Pinot Port. The alcohol isn’t too unrestrained given the overall burl of the wine, but the fruit is dark and somewhat gelatinous, the structure an almost cartoonish 100-pound falling weight, and the body the kind one fears is only achievable via the sort of secretive modern science for which athletes must pee in cups. Not that I think that’s what they’ve done here. But I do think this is a wine for people who usually find Hartley Ostini pinots overly transparent, and I am not one of those people. (11/11)


Hartley Ostini “Hitching Post” 2001 Pinot Noir Julia’s (Santa Maria Valley) – Dusty morels and more intense, freshly-plucked porcini bind with pie fruit (that is to say: there’s an oven-warmed quality to it). This is fully knit and, I’d say, fully mature, even though I don’t expect it to fall apart immediately. A lack of full expression is, I think, inherent to the wine rather than to any artifact of age or storage; while I welcome the fact that the wine wasn’t pushed towards the caricature that afflicts so many of its neighbors, it also tastes as if it wasn’t pushed to the fullest expression of its own inherency, which is something I’d identify as somewhat of a house style at Hartley Ostini. In a way it’s a good thing, considering the alternatives, but one could also wish for just a bit more. (11/11)

Son, take a good look around

Hartley Ostini “Hitching Post” 2008 Pinot Noir “Hometown” (Santa Barbara County) – Squared-off, blocky pinot noir in a varietal straightjacket. That’s neither criticism nor praise, exactly, but this wine tastes like someone averaged out all the pinot noir from “here,” left out most of the adjustments and/or trappings, and just presented the results as wine. (11/11)


Babcock 2009 Pinot Noir “Rita’s Earth” (Santa Rita Hills) – 13.6%, but tastes much, much bigger…a good lesson in how fruit intensity and extractive winemaking can fool the palate into thinking that excess body is alcohol-derived (which, to be sure, it often is). Purple, black, swollen…this is like drinking a bruise. (11/11)

ABC, easy as 123

Au Bon Climat 2007 Pinot Noir Los Alamos (Santa Maria Valley) – There is a particular quality of pinot noir that, in New Zealand, I’ve used – with some success – to guess at Central Otago (specifically Bannockburn/Cromwell) sourcing: blood orange, plum, and beet. But it occasionally shows up elsewhere, there and abroad, and here’s an example. If I hadn’t seen the label, I’d probably once again guess Central Otago, except that there’s a little more sophistication and delineation to the fruit (a consequence, perhaps, of New Zealand’s generally young vines and still-limited clonal palette). It’s really quite a gorgeous wine, overall, and as it finishes a graphite-like minerality…very unusual in pinot noir…starts to rear its particulate head. This is still very young, and yet there are already mature-tasting elements within, so as to its actual future prospects I wouldn’t dare venture a guess. (11/11)


Native9 2008 Pinot Noir Rancho Ontiveros (Santa Maria Valley) – Liquorous cough syrup heavy on the menthol, plus massive tannin that hasn’t quite escaped its green stage.