Have the pinot gurus gotten a bit carried away with their effusions about recent California PN vintages? How many “golden years of pinot” articles must we read? Look I’m a convert, perhaps a zealot, and I’m stocking up on as many recent California pinots as I can get my grubby little hands on—Kosta Browne (probably should sell it though), Fog Dog, Rochioli, Black Kite, Roessler, Tandem, Rhys/Alesia, Sea Smoke, you name it. No regrets here, esp. if boom turns to bust in coming vintages and my little gold mine satisfies my pinot fix through future green, herbaceous, washout years. Plus I’ll have no guilt sharing this lucre with my thirsty wino neighbors. Maybe in a couple of years you’ll drop me a line begging for a couple of bottles from my cache of small production juice, at FMV of course; we can talk then.
At the same time, if you read James Laube and his crew’s recent spate of pinot articles and tastings in WS and online, you’d think they gargle with the stuff every morning. Laube’s blog from yesterday gushes about how he and some cronies double-blinded a couple of bushels of 2004 and 2005 Napa and Sonoma pinots, sustaining their woodies all afternoon. Who needs Viagra? I guess they missed the Colts/Patriots game. Guys, I get it, I know that the convection of global warming, advancing techniques, artistic flair and God knows what else is sustaining an abundance of fine pinot right at my doorstep (figuratively, unless a prized shipment just arrived). I knew it last year too and the year before that; find something else to write about, just so long as it doesn’t concern the price of 2005 Bordeaux futures.
Which brings me to the bottle I opened last night, a 2003 Alcina Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sangiacomo Vineyard, which I purchased direct from the winery as a mailing list buyer for about $38. I’ve opened a few bottles of other Alcina PN with the aforementioned neighborhood guzzlers and with other family freeriders over the holidays and the wines were definitely crowd pleasing. The winery wears a non-interventionist label, which I’m not sure I really understand as turning grapes into wine requires quite a bit of intervention, unless you have some kind of magical or spiritual powers. At any rate, the 2003 Sangiacomo was one of Greg Piatigorski’s (Alcina’s owner) first wines and JL loved it, rating it a 93. Thus I opened the bottle with considerable anticipation, noting its odd black synthetic “cork.” Sadly, my hopes were dashed and while not a bad wine by any stretch I was underwhelmed (at least at first, see below). I guess it doesn’t pay to read reviews before drinking. As Homer would say, “Doh!”
Tasting Notes: Fragrant opening bouquet of currants, cherries and earth. Vibrant mid-palate with raspberry ice and a bit of loam. Sharp acidity and juicy, though a bit rustic. Tart finish with a touch of pencil lead. Seems too dry for much more life so my guess is that this needs to be consumed in the near term. Consistent flavor profile with other Sonoma 2003s that I have tasted recently.
Rating: Good. [see post script below]
PS I drank some more of the Alcina 2003 last night (1/24/07) and it had mellowed considerably, with the tart/bitter finish now replaced with cherry ice cream flavors (think a spoonful of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia). The wine became almost gulpable, losing its rustic edges. All in all a lovely wine that may age better than I originally thought. Maybe it needs decanting . . . what do you think?
Rating (revised): Tasty.