Monday, May 22, 2006

Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Review

Santa Lucia Highlands the jewel of Monterey’s wine country. Once thought to be un-farmable land in the salad bowl of Salinas valley, Santa Lucia Highlands is one of my favorite Pinot Noir growing areas of California. Due to efforts of many farmers this area is now gaining notoriety for world class Pinot Noir. Coincidentally, California Pinot Noir as well as Pinot from all parts of the world is gaining in popularity credited by many to the popular 2004 movie Sideways in which drinking Pinot Noir was glorified by the Hollywood rendition of wine tasting in California’s South Coast growing region.

I tasted through a group of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir recently and found several interesting contenders for the affection of my tongue. Grape growers in SLH sell grapes to vintners from all over the state. Names such as A.P. Vin, Vision Cellars, Testarossa, Loring and Peter Michael produce wine from this region but are located elsewhere. Aside from producers out of the region there are a number of locally owned vintners and vineyards such as Lucia, Morgan, Pisoni, Roar, Talbott and Mer Soleil and many more. Out of the choices available some of my favorites are sourced from Pisoni vineyard, Garys’ vineyard, Rosella’s vineyard, Double L vineyard and Sleepy Hollow vineyard. Here is the list of wines tasted and my comments:

A.P. Vin 2004 Garys’ vineyard Pinot Noir

Wow is my first impression. For all those that love the fruit forwardness of some California Pinot this one is for you. Full of vibrant black fruits round and rich but with enough tannin to know it has a spine.

Loring 2004 Garys’ vineyard Pinot Noir

So far this rendition of Garys’ is impressive in that when I opened my six pak two of the new screwcap bottles had a hole chaffed through the top. The first bottle with a hole I tried was still delicious however it tasted older than need be. Plenty of toasted oak and black currant flavors and smells finishing just a little sharp with a hint of dust. The second bottle was pushed to its limit with the amount of air it had but was still completely drinkable.

Lucia 2004 Garys’ vineyard Pinot Noir

A bright juicy version of this vineyard. Jeff Pisoni is expressing himself well with the grapes of his family. Beautiful red purple and aromas of black and blue berries fresh earth and brown spices, a rich, opulent wine great for a summer picnic.

Lucia 2004 SLH Pinot Noir

I love this wine as an accompaniment to BBQ tri tip, cottswold cheese, a sourdough baguette and a touch of olive oil w/basalmic and herbs. A great food wine with black cherry, black berry aromas and flavors, fine tannins and a great finish.

Pisoni Estate 2003 Pinot Noir

Probably one of my all time favorite wines. One that I can drink over and over without tiring, at first glance the dark brooding purple color is reminiscent of Syrah but the aromas are distinctly Pinot, seductive, earthy but brimming with fruit. A mouthful of heaven in the good years and merely bliss in the not so good. This vintage was another fantastic one taking me to nirvana through an olfactory nerve and balanced in a blissful state with every gulp.

Siduri 2004 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir

I really like Siduri wines and the Pisoni vineyard version of Adam Lee’s work is nothing less than stunning. This wine will continue to gain momentum for a few more years. An elegant style of the Pisoni fruit filled with bright cherry flavors and smooth, complex and layered tastes carefully balanced between wood and fruit. Its true gracefulness comes through in the refined luxuriousness of it silky fine knit tannin finish leaving you with a light fruit blanket to encompass your palate for what seems like minutes.

Morgan 2004 twelve clones SLH Pinot Noir

A light fresh version of SLH pinot and obviously a nice blend of twelve clones. Nice black and red fruits with light spiced side, great with pizza. Enough acid to be food friendly.

Morgan 2004 Garys’ vineyard Pinot Noir

When I think of “Burgundian Style” this wine comes to mind with its light in the glass but full in the mouth personality. A beautiful red purple color, aromas of black cherry, brown spices with floral notes.

Morgan 2004 Double L vineyard Pinot Noir

Organically grown grapes is a plus for me with this wine. A beautiful garnet red wine with aromas of brown spices and black cherries. A supple, yet vibrant core of wild berry flavor accented with oak and spice notes. A long clean finish.

Logan 2003 Sleepy Hollow vineyard Pinot Noir

Similar in style each vintage of Logan retains a little terroir and a little winemaker signature. A soft easy to drink wine with classic garnet red color and black cherry earth and smoky oak aromas. Smooth, ready to drink upon release but short term cellaring benefited this wine.

Roar 2003 Rosella’s vineyard Pinot Noir

Rosella’s vineyard as well as Roar owned by Gary Franscioni one of the partners in the Garys’ vineyard. This vineyard is really producing great fruit. This wine has a dark red color aromas of raspberry, cherry and vanilla. On the palate the texture is smooth and the red fruit flavors are opulent and integrated with notes of brown spices. A great wine to share with a lazy afternoon and some soft washed rind cheeses.


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