A few days ago, I sent out some reasonably disparaging tasting notes, in the form of a tweet, regarding Loring Pinot Noir The Llama ‘03. These were, to date, my harshest words toward any wine I’ve bothered to mention which is because I review wine the way I used to review records. I would rather not take the time to review something I didn’t enjoy at all. And I’d like to think that this is why so many latter day wine reviewers seem to rate on 100 point scales that start at 88 points. I only write a truly scathing review if the finished product is so unpleasant that I want that amount of time of my life back (as well as the money spent). Every Loring Pinot Noir to cross my palate to date has left me with this feeling.
While I am neither sommelier, winemaker, nor grape grower, I have tasted thousands of wines, most specifically, I have taste wine made from Garys’ Vineyard grapes by almost every winemaker who has ever worked with them, going back to 1999. Wine from this fine fruit made by Lucia, Arcadian, Miner, Capiaux, Lorca (RIP), Novy, Vision, Antiqv2s, Roar, Copain, Morgan, Siduri, Tantara, Testarossa, Pessango, Ryan, and even the shockingly overpriced Kosta Browne are amongst the finest American pinot noir and syrah ever to pass my lips. In the right hands, this fruit is simply magic.
In fact, I first started buying Loring Pinot Noir specifically because they buy grapes from some of the best growers in the country, but I have been perplexed by Loring’s expression of every vintage of Garys’ vineyard grapes. Before writing this, I consulted Loring’s own website where I found that they recommend these wines be enjoyed in their youth, which is a dubious claim that many wine producers use to better sell their most recent vintages. But perhaps in this case, it was true, and I decided to purchase a couple of bottles of ’07 Loring Pinot to taste, given that this was an outstanding vintage for Pinot Noir in that region and it’s still a relatively young bottle. Then I did the math on how much I’ve spent on Loring Pinot against the enjoyment gained and decided to just open the most recent bottle from my favorite vineyard that I already own.
Being St. Patrick’s Day (when everyone is drinking and you couldn’t pay me to enter Manhattan), I stayed home and opened a Loring Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard 2005 at 1:02pm to find a slight Burgundian funk barely apparent under the burning throb of alcohol. The palate had some nice components to it, but they seemed rather disparate, causing the mouthfeel to come off as somewhat biting. After significant breathing time, the alcoholic nose subsided a bit, to reveal some faint earth tones. The palate is still somewhat sharp and is showing little sign of noticeable integration, though some red fruit is present. It’s not a terrible wine, but given the quality of the fruit from Garys’ in ’04 and ’05, this one just isn’t worth the price. Everyone’s palate is different. Loring Pinot Noir just doesn’t jibe with mine.
If anyone out there enjoys these wines, I’ll gladly pass off the rest of my Loring collection with a reimbursement below original cost. Look me up.
For those of you who live in the greater NYC area and have not yet been to Motorino, there really is no excuse, and you are simply missing out. I know that hyperbole is the source of all web content but there are far too many varieties of pizza available in Brooklyn, let alone NYC, and it would be futile to claim any one as the best.
That being said, Motorino Brooklyn makes world class pizza. The quality and consistency of the crust, the brick oven firing, and every ingredient used is as high as can possibly be expected, per dollar spent. Food-wise you cannot go wrong on their menu, and besides the legendary Brussels Sprouts and Pugliese pizzas, the meatballs w/ pizza bread app is fairly profound in it’s comfort-foody simplicity. However, for a pizza place (even a really good one) without a significant wine program, $25 corkage fee per bottle of outside wine is a little high for Brooklyn. But on to the wine tasting.
Our first wine of the evening was the Lucia Chardonnay Sta Lucia Highlands ’07. I simply can’t say enough about the quality of fruit grown in this relatively recently designated AVA. The Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay produced in this region are as much a player on the world stage amongst their finest international counterparts as is the pizza at Motorino. The ’07 Lucia Chardonnay is bolstered by those particular ripe, round characteristics that so many CA wines of the ’07 vintage are displaying in their youth.
It’s pale/white gold in the glass with a soft, somewhat muted, but undeniably burgundian nose. The acidity strikes first (with a memory foam pillow rather than a 2×4), embracing the palate and unifying the flavors. The palate is rich and buttery through the ample, bordering on vast, mid-palate, tapering into a lightly sweet strawberry finish. As beautifully and firmly as an ’02 of the same wine showed not long ago at my table, I’ll likely put the rest of these ’07s down for a few seasons nap. While tonight’s “I only drink white” reveler stuck with the Chard, the rest of the table moved on to Pinot Noir.
The Orogeny Pinot Noir Sonoma Green County 2002 was by far the most unusual of the lineup. With a somewhat murky nose of coffee and black fruit over the slow burn of the alcohol, this wine currently comes off more like an unfiltered field blend twice the age than a Sonoma Pinot Noir. Somewhere into the second hour after opening, the initially sharp mouthfeel softened and broadened to reveal a complex palate dominated by black and red fruit and culminating with pepper and ash. Given the weight, the ’02 Oregeny really should’ve been batting clean-up, rather than playing opening act (not to mix mediaphors). It’s unique enough in it’s moment that I can’t honestly be sure if this wine is nearing the back end of it’s drinking plateau or just settling into itself. Perhaps we’ll talk again in a year or so.
Our last wine of the evening was EIEIO Pinot Noir Broadley Vineyard 2005. I’ve been buying and drinking EIEIO for some time now, and am particularly fond of their Swine Wine and Cuvee E and Cuvee I Pinot Noir. Some of their single vineyard offerings get a little pricey, but they are all hand-crafted wines made from some of the region’s finest vineyards. As indicated by the label, pictured below, I excitedly snatched this one up at a recent end of bin sale. I’ve always enjoyed the artifact that is a bottle of wine almost as much as the glorious juice it protects and I admire both the whimsy and visual design of EIEIO’s capsules.
Attractive capsule beheaded, cork removed, and the initial pour reveals a purposeful pinot that perhaps wasn’t ready to awaken from it’s nap. The nose is muted and the palate unwinding, but blackberry over cool earth is apparent, and there’s just a hint of spice peaking out from under the weight of alcohol. Across the board with OR Pinot Noir, the ’05 vintage has further to go than the average ’06, ’07, or ’08, and this ’05 seems to corroborate.
After it’s had a breath, the EIEIO Pinot Noir Broadley Vineyard ’05 is an attractive pinot of reasonable depth and complexity (and sonorous color). After an hour and then closer to two, the palate broadened considerably and the red fruit and trace minerals became more prevalent. Still it seems not yet fully mature, and significant personality should emerge from further integration from bottle age. If I had another, I’d give it a taste in about 2 years. So, if the fine folks at EIEIO would like to send me a bottle around this time 2013, that would be very much appreciated. Talk to you then!
Since 1972, Jordan Estate has been making high quality hand-crafted wines. Known primarily as a purveyors of fine Cabernet and Chardonnay, Jordan, like so many other American wineries, have occasioned over the years to produce tiny amounts of fabulous and unusual dessert wines, almost entirely in secret. In my years of tasting, some of the most impressive surprises in quality, uniqueness, and value, have come from rare bottles like Shafer Port and Joseph Phelps Delice du Semillon. So, last fall, when I received an e-mail offer of Jordan Cabernet from 1976-1991 and a small parcel of their Riveiere Russe from the early 80s, I quickly snatched up a pair of ’86 Cabs and a small handful of these rare and unusual (formerly) golden dessert wine from ’82, ’83, and ’85.
During an informal tasting over New Year’s, the 1982 Jordan Riviere Russe showed impressively favorably against a much higher priced tokaji and a *gulp* ’95 d’Yquem. While several tasters preferred the Jordan outright, all agreed it to be worthy of it’s company that evening.
By the time I opened a bottle of ’83 Jordan Riviere Russe last night, my palate was too spent from the succession of flavors (Drouhin Cote de Beaune’05, Fiddlehead Estate Pinot Noir Seven Twenty Eight ’02, K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah Wahluke Slope ’06, d’Arenberg Riesling The Noble ’96, and the reasonably profound Joseph Phelps Johannisberg Riesling ’76) to properly note. Thanks to my trusty Vacu Vin, the wine in question is airtight and in the fridge awaiting tonight’s tasting and notes.
In the glass, the 1983 Jordan Riviere Russe is darker in color and more viscous than the ’82. The ’82, ’83, and ’85 seem to be in reverse order, by color v. age in that the oldest here is clearly the lightest and closest to it’s original golden color. In almost every way, this ’83 mimics a fine 5 Puttonyos Tokaji a few years younger in age. A lighter amber in the glass than it appears pictured in the bottle, the ’83 Riviere Russe is viscous and sweet, but shy of syrupy, and too nimble to be heavy.
The ’83 Riviere Russe is a late harvest style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and much like the ’82, would find itself quite comfortable in a tasting against Sauternes and tokaji several times the price. The nose remains somewhat muted after some time in the glass, but the apricot that is more apparent on the palate is present. Soft caramel, apricot, citrus, and honey maintain through the unexpectedly long finish. The wine is surprisingly fresh with acidity to spare and it may have another handful of good years still to age. It will be interesting to see how the even darker ’85 has weathered it’s slightly fewer years.
But that’s a story for another night.
Hello Wine Drinkers of the World!
As I actively switch wine related web presence in this direction, previously residing @:
I’m drinking a glass of K Vintners Milbrandt Wahluke Slope Columbia Valley Syrah 2006 (see comically low-fi iphone pic).
The wine is a big concentrated fruit forward full-bodied red, as most Charles Smith wines tend to be. Much of the nose, after considerable breathing time, is still masked beneath a heavy waft of alcohol, but the dark berries that make up the most pleasurable aspects of the palate are beginning to make themselves known to the olfactory as well. I have tasted a number of these wines going back to K Vintners The Beautiful Syrah 2002, which was not just a clever name, and Smith continues to impress at a number of price points, even as those price points creep skyward with each vintage.
While today’s photo quality is poor and these wine notes abbreviated, soon you will find unreasonably in-depth reviews, interviews, research, hi-res images, and video.