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…
2012 Siduri Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, $44)
Spicy, voluptuous, and juicy, this fits RRV to a T. You get the leather, smoke, and meat that many also associate with RRV, but also a significant amount of wet stone minerality, too. I keep smelling more and more Pinots from RRV that have that minerality, so I am pretty sure at some point soon the descriptor “surprising amount” will no longer be applicable. Anyway, Dried herbs, black cherry and citrus round things out, and it’s all sexy-thang on the palate, lithe but also broad, holding the heat and structure well over a long, herbal-tinged finish. General yumminess ensues, for the most part.
2012 Siduri Keefer Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, $52)
If the Bucher is the sexy side of RRV, the Keefer shows something more muscular and downright serious. Earthy, meaty, smoky, full of black tea and black raspberry; and yet, it’s also vibrant and bright. That’s a good thing, because the palate has quite a bit of leathery grip. The finish is long, the oak is probably too prominent, but the fruit is generous enough that all the elements of this youngster ought to come together nicely in a couple of years, when it gets past RRV Pinot puberty.
2012 Siduri Sierra Mar Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands, $52)
As tightly wound as this wine was, I found myself loving it. It’s all restraint at the beginning, betraying almost nothing. A few Little by little, though, it opens the kimono. Minerals, dried herbs, tea leaf, citrus rind, raspberry fruit… On the palate, you sense the power and the grip, but you are also keenly aware of some intelligent design behind the scaffolding that is holding this together. Needs time, but will probably reward patience.
2012 Siduri Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills, $52)
There’s an alluring combo of pepper and herbs to start this off. It throws in some bacon, too, then tea. Hell, it’s like an English breakfast going on at first. Red fruit and citrus come next, followed by alternating waves of plummy fruit, herbs, vibrant red berries, and tannic beefiness. Those waves all happen in a regular, sexy dance rhythm, and the only logical conclusion I came to at the end of it was to pour another glass for drinking pleasure purposes.