Wine & Spirits - April 2012 - (Page 86)

YEAR’S BEST PINOT NOIR Our blind panels tasted 914 new-release pinot noirs over the past 12 months. Our critics rated 121 as exceptional (90+) and 62 as Best Buys. Joshua Greene reviews California wines; Patrick J. Comiskey reviews Oregon. Find a complete list of wines tasted and all reviews at 414011 | Chanin $ 2008 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir This is the second release from Gavin Chanin’s new label—he’s featured in the 30 Under 30 section of our Fall issue for the work he’s done at Bien Nacido with Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, and the buzz his own wines have generated this year. A wine like this 2008 is formidable enough to sustain that buzz: It has the breadth of a great California wine without being about fruit. Instead, it’s more about the tension in the flavors than the flavors themselves (part of that may be the cool season at Bien Nacido, where Chanin harvested in early September and achieved a fully ripe wine at 12.9 percent alcohol). This is succulent and mouthwatering, the texture rich, the flavors pointedly briny; there’s a stemmy character that calls out the acidity in the finish, suiting the wine to an oily fish like grilled mackerel, as well as to other, less extreme matches. (W&S, 10/11) Chanin Wine Co., Santa Maria, CA and sandstone. It was planted to the Swan clone in 2001 and is organically farmed. Those vines offer a profound take on Sonoma’s far coast, a wine that gains increasing depth as it takes on air, one that should perform well in the cellar. (W&S, 10/11; 75 cases) The Evening Land Vineyards, Carlton, OR 413706 | Marimar Estate $ 2007 Sonoma Coast Mas Cavalls Doña Margarita Vineyard Pinot Noir From a high-density planting six miles from the sea, this vintage of Mas Cavalls blends a California heritage clone (it’s 56 percent Pommard, which creates some of the most transparent and compelling pinots in the right far-coast conditions) with a Dijon clone (115, which contributes to the deep well of dark cherry fruit). The fruit is sweet but the wine is not sweet, layered in licorice scents, Christmas spice, redwood frond and fern—a vinous evocation of the coast that has the power to improve your mood the way ocean air might. (It improved my mood just to smell this wine, particularly a day or two after it was first opened.) It develops into a beauty—remarkably tight in its mineral-inflected tannin—an ethereal memory of the Anderson Woods. (W&S, 10/11; 536 cases) Marimar Torres Estate, Sebastopol, CA 415402 | Flowers $ | Calera 2009 Sonoma Coast Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir This is selected from Flowers’s most recent planting, 43 acres rising from 1,400 to 1,875 feet above the Pacific. The best wines from this vineyard have shown glimmers of grand cru sophistication and this 2009 develops in a way that parallels a great Burgundy. It starts off meaty, seemingly simple in its directness, until it begins to deepen, the tannins going through an adolescent moment with a character like spiced tea and cheese rind. By the next day, those tannins have turned toward ferrous minerality and the wine is racy, dense, floral, as red as persimmon, powerful in an oceanic sense. If you don’t believe there is terroir character in California pinot noir, spend some time at this vineyard, then go home and taste this wine. (W&S, 10/11) Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Cazadero, CA 415974 $ | Freestone $ 414202 | Evening Land Vyds. $ 2009 Sonoma Coast Doc’s Ranch Pinot Noir (Best Buy) The scent of this wine takes on a life of its own, pulling toward the coast with hints of kelp and seaweed, toward the dairy farms of Sonoma’s coastal hills, centered on a juicy core that’s complex rather than directly fruity or overtly sweet. It rises out of the glass in resonant layers of spice, beef bouillon, bright red tomato skin and darker, earthy notes in the tannin. Doc’s Ranch is a 1.5-acre vineyard between Coastlands and Seascape. At 830 feet, it sits above the fog on a gentle slope of Goldridge loam 86 W I N E & S P I R I T S A P R I L 2 0 1 2 2008 Mt. Harlan Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir From four blocks of hillside pinot noir planted in 1975, Jensen shows off vibrant minerality in 2008. It starts off with a flintlock scent, a reductive character that opens into crushed-rock tannins and mouthwatering acidity as the wine takes on air. The stemminess of whole-cluster fermentation contributes to its spicy, zesty grip, a rasp under the cherry-red fruit that keeps it weightless, even as the texture feels rich. This is structured to age and evolve for ten years or more. (W&S, 2/12; 829 cases) Calera Wine Co., Hollister, CA 446 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Theresa Heredia blends this wine from Freestone’s two estate vineyards, Pastorale and Quarter Moon, after choosing the top blocks for its single-vineyard wines. She then selects the more complex and structured blocks for this blend and the more fruit-forward blocks for Fogdog. It’s a dramatic wine in 2009, with layers of flavor immediately implied in the scent—ripe black cherries, the iodine of kelp and oak softening the minerality of the tannin. The wine’s delicious richness becomes explosive with air, the potent structure bringing waves of salty tannins and blasts of red fruit. Effusive rather than complex, this captures the energy of the coast in a wine to pour liberally with roast duck. (4,660 cases) Freestone Vineyards, Freestone, CA 416719

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - April 2012

Wine & Spirits - April 2012
Editor's Note
Fined & Filtered: Patrick Comiskey on pairing wine with molecular gastronomy
Extreme Values
Spirits: Lou Bustamante on cocktail bitters
Wine Superheros
Port without Serra
The Class of ’72
Brightliners in the Deep End
The Restoration of Austria’s Noble Red
New & Notable New York City Restaurants
23rd Annual Restaurant Poll
Tastings Overview
American Pinot Noir
Austrian Wines
White Burgundy
Loire Wines
Portugal Reds
Tuscan Wines
American Wines
Imported Wines
Lost Commandments Howard G. Goldberg rewrites Exodus

Wine & Spirits - April 2012