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Jenise

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WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Jenise » Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:49 pm

Last week, a friend who raids his mother's root cellar from time to time for wine, brought a 1986 Mt. Eden Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir to dinner. Damn, those really were the good old days, this wine was only 12.2% alcohol--see, it can be done! Somewhat faded but still stately, this wine from 2000 ft elevation in the Santa Cruz Mountains showed lovely old pinot flavors of tea and potpourri, with a little caramel on the long, lazy finish. An honor to drink.

Then last Friday night we decided we wanted pinot with whatever we were having for dinner. I pulled an orphan, the 2003 Belle Glos for the Sonoma Coast's Taylor Lane Vineyard in Sonoma County, which is notable for being from Chuck Wagner of Caymus fame. BLECH! Saturated, extracted black raspberry and plum flavors open into a bitter and unpleasant 70% unsweetened cocoa flavor cave of a place while biggest legs I've ever seen run down the inside of the glass. The label says 14.6% alcohol, but it tastes like 16 and I can't drink this. Go back to cabernet, Chuck.

So we set that aside, and I pulled a 2000 St. Innocent Brickhouse Vineyard pinot noir. Not an auction wine where provenance is unknown, but one purchased by the case directly from the winery and cellared impeccably since, this wine continues to confound me. Though I normally leave St. Inno pinots for eight years, we accidentally opened one about a year ago and was surprised to run into that prunes-in-soy sauce flavor that is the death rattle of pinot, so I've been trying them on a six month schedule since. This is perhaps the worst bottle yet, but it is just further down the path I feared this wine was on and time alone could account for that--this wine is dying, and it never really lived. I let it sit on the counter for two days, and of course the necritis only worsened. Crap, a whole case!

So we set THAT aside and opened another Sonoman, the 1995 Swan Estate Pinot Noir. The wine was brown and smelly, and went straight down the drain. So back to the cellar for a second bottle fo the same wine, and the second bottle was much better than the first, and at last we had a drinkable pinot, but these too are heading downhill from their peak about two years ago. I was a fool not to drink them up then, but memories of the '85 danced in my head, and I foolishly thought these might be 20 year wines, too.
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Cynthia Wenslow

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Cynthia Wenslow » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:07 pm

Jenise wrote:Crap, a whole case!


How painful!
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Jenise » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:12 pm

Yup, $400 down the drain. Not easy to accept. And this is a winemaker who won't replace bad bottles. Or at least, won't if it's me who asks.
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Kyrstyn Kralovec

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Kyrstyn Kralovec » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:26 pm

Bummer, Jenise...although thanks for the "prunes in soy-sauce" descriptor. Hadn't seen that before but it definitely fits what I've experienced but been unable to describe on occasion.
I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. ~John Galt
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Dale Williams

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Dale Williams » Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:38 pm

Have a couple of the '00 7 Springs, hope they're doing better. Sorry re the case!
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Anders Källberg

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Anders Källberg » Thu Sep 06, 2007 5:49 pm

Jenise wrote: 2000 St. Innocent Brickhouse Vineyard pinot noir. Crap, a whole case!


That's really too bad to hear, Jenise, and worrying. I've got to go down to the cellar and check which vintage my single bottle of St Innocent, which happens to be the Brick House, is. Would you say your bottles were bad or that all bottles of this wine is expected to be like this?

Cheers, Anders
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Five pinots, one pleasure

by Jenise » Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:23 pm

Anders, wish I could answer but I don't know. Whatever the problem is with this wine it's rather subtle. That is, it's never been truly bad, it's just never shown well at any stage and it's not performing now in a way that's consistent with either St. Innocent or previous Brickhouses (the '95 was a prior case purchase, and that wine drank beautifully for ten years and possibly beyond). Did I taste it before buying? No, so I don't even have that reference; I purchased it on futures on a whim after drinking one of those lovely 95's the night my favorite cat died too unexpectedly at only age 7. We wanted to be able to remember Chuckie (Jim Dietz--remember Chuckie, the big blue Siamese?) with every bottle.

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