Pipe and Pint Grape Notes – Vol.1/Ch.3
Today we are going to move away a little from the bold and powerful wines of the first two reviews to a grape variety that is actually among my favorites. But don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I am going to write a biased review. Well, somewhat biased based on my personal taste, yes, but no more biased than all other reviews and tasting you will find. In fact, the Pinot Noir grape actually makes it quite easy to be somewhat objective since it is quite a unique variety. Pinot Noir is what I like to call a temperamental little thing. In the right micro climate and treated well it can produce some of the most outstanding and complex wines you will likely ever taste. Just look at the world’s most sought after (and hence also most expensive wine) from the Domaine Romanee Conti, a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. But if it is grown in a place it doesn’t like and not given the care it demands, don’t expect any greatness! It is in fact this characteristic which gives it a certain sense of personality and also makes it so incredibly appealing.
Being so “picky” about where it is grown and handled has also resulted in some quite hefty price tags for a lot of the good Pinots out there. Which is why it is always refreshing to come across a great example of Pinot Noir at a reasonable price. I recently tasted three of the different lines of Pinot Noir from Talbott Vineyards, a producer located in the Santa Lucia Hills close to Monterey, California that specializes in growing both Chardonays and Pinot Noirs. And mind you, they do it very well indeed. Aided by the cool but sunny climate and the gravelly soil of the Sleepy Hollow vineyard, Robb Talbott and winemaker Dan Karlsen consistently produce a line of Pinots that play to the unique character of the variety.
The Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir stood out to me the most since it managed to really showcase some of the qualities that are so enjoyable and distinct in Pinot Noirs. It’s one of those wines that presents itself with a nice fruit forward character, showing a nice mix of dark berries, blackcurrant and black cherry but manages to keep it interesting by wrapping this fruit in a nice earthy and herbal note which gives the fruit a distinct but very pleasant slightly bitter undertone. There is even some notes of pepper and cedar wood on the finish. It’s a precise wine with plenty of finesse and a nice soft texture on the palate which is very well balanced, showing that it’s been aged in oak but not in an overpowering kind of way. It has a nice level of acidity and minerality to always keep you interested.
This is a lovely wine that is by no means on the lighter scale of the Pinots, showing off its heritage well. It’s distinctly Californian in a good way! While the 2013 vintage is obviously still on the younger side, it is very drinkable already at this point. I am curiously looking forward to trying this again in a few years since it will probably develop nicely as it ages. I for one will definitely be stocking a few bottles to find out more. Overall, a great value Pinot!