Archive for September, 2014
Earlier this week, we got into the head of the rabble-rousing guy behind the Siduri label, Adam Lee.
That interview turned out to be too interesting for me to edit significantly, and so I decided to take advantage of the online format’s theoretically limitless space and publish as much of it as I could. But even I have limits on the length of the posts I’m willing to publish here, and unfortunately that decision left no room for exploring Lee’s wines.
I’m making up for that today, and below you’ll find highlights from a much larger pool of Pinot Noir samples that Lee sent over to me for consideration.
Before the tasting notes fun begins, I feel compelled to point out a couple of things:
– All of the highlighted wines below are small-production, single-vineyard takes on California Pinot. Some won’t be terribly easy to locate, as they’re made in quantities of only a few hundred cases each.
– Each of the wines clocks in somewhere between 14.1% and 14.5% abv, and as such are all fairly powerfully-built Pinots.
– Having said that, there is something that drew me in about each of the four wines you’ll read about (I swear I will get to that eventually) here: each one is balanced. You will feel the power in these Pinots, for sure, but you won’t really be feeling the heat of the alcoholic fire…
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Siduri’s Adam Lee is a rabble-rouser.
He’s probably most known for producing interesting Pinot Noirs using from several different west coast vineyards (more on some of those single-vineyard wines later this week). He’s also pretty well known for something else: a couple of years ago, while taking part in a panel on alcohol levels and balance in Pinot Noir wines at World of Pinot Noir, he swapped labels on two of his wines (one at 13.6% and the other at 15.2% alcohol) just to prove a point.
That point is that a wine’s abv doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as a wine’s overall balance in how it presents itself, and its harmony among its constituent parts (tannin, acid, etc.). It’s the kind of rabble-rousing trouble-making that I enjoy. It also helps that the wines don’t suck, either!
Lee and I have been trying to get some sort of interview done for… well, years, actually, and never seemed to get around to it.
Until now, that is.
Here is our (unedited) interview for your reading enjoyment. We talk abv, of course, but also CA Pinot, sex toys, goddess’s nipples, the hard work of wine criticism, and whether or not wine blogs matter.
Lee isn’t short on entertaining opinions, as you will quickly learn…
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- 10 Robert Mondav Winery Fume Blanc Reserve (Napa Valley): A mini – & successful – treatise on how oaked SB should be done in NV. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Bellingham Citrus Grove Chenin Blanc (Western Cape): Aptly named, and refreshingly simple, but dangerously easy to imbibe. $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 10 Pepper Bridge Winery Trine (Walla Walla Valley): Sweet berry fruits and vanilla, cooking meat with paprika and talking smack. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
- 11 Domaine William Fevre Fourchaume Chablis Premier Cru (Chablis Premier Cru): Dare I eat a peach? If they’re this good then hell yes $40 A- >>find this wine<<
- 09 Quinta do Noval Cedro do Noval (Vinho Regional Duriense): Shaking its body, nice and sweet and sassy; King Julien would be proud. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 10 V. Sattui Winery Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Action hero, victorious, covered in grit, & smoking a stogie. $85 A- >>find this wine<<
- 11 Domaine William Fevre Les Clos Chablis Grand Cru (Chablis): Sometimes infatuation comes in the form of golden liquid, apparently. $100 A >>find this wine<<
- 12 Ponzi Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Nasal fireworks, in brilliant hues of peppers, spices, dried flowers, & brambly gumption. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
- 13 Flora Springs Soliloquy Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Oakville): Not afraid of flaunting a bit of its skin, or a bunch of its talent. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Flora Springs Merlot (Napa Valley): Think CA Merlot is down for the count? Here comes this spicy number to prove you way wrong. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
“Why you want to keep trying?
You never get it right
When you could be living day for night
Live my dream
There’s no dancing in between
Why not let it go?”
– “Day for Night” by Spock’s Beard
Quite often, I find myself delving into the wine sample pool and coming up empty. Not in terms of empty hands, but empty fulfillment. While I’m not shortchanging this wine thang – because I love it – the sample volume is such that I can sometimes open a dozen bottles for tasting and not find one that I personally want to drink over the course of three days, savoring its development, seeing how it reacts with different cuisine, etc., etc., etc.
More often, I give up, pour a glass of whatever I happened to like best, and go back to things like trying to figure out how to use the word “demiurge” in a wine review (go ahead, try it…).
Anyway, sometimes the fates smile, and offer wines that are so brilliant in their presentation that I have to don metaphorical shades, and then I sort of fall in love with them a little bit. Today is about two such wines, as different as a breezy, sunny Spring day and a sultry, moon-lit Summer night, but both shining with equal wine geek-rapture-inducing brightness. Like the addict who constantly chases after the elation of the first fix, I live day-for-night (also the name of a kick-ass prog rock album, by the way) for these moments. Damn, that looks sadder in print than it is supposed to sound when someone says it.
Best to get on with these recommendations, before I mangle any more mashed up similes (or spend any more time on the virtual psychoanalyst couch). The only remaining preamble is a word of caution, as we’re about to enter some serious high-price-point territory (I know you’re up for it, though!)…
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