Geez, would somebody please make up his mind? For the better part of the past year, we've been sharing our experience of drinking our way through different countries, by way of their grapes. A kind of around-the-world-in-as-long-as-it-takes...with a buzz. If you've been with us from the beginning, you might remember Tim's initial prejudice towards California reds. (Meghan may or may not have held similar preconceived notions, but elects to, more often than not, play good cop.)
But our trip to Sonoma last year, while not totally dispelling his bigotry, was eye-opening in that it let us discover some smaller wineries that take an artisan approach to their craft. These wines are almost always going to carry big fruit flavors. We learned that it's possible, however, with the right touch, to balance them out with depth and acidity in order to make a more elegant product. So some might think of us as being indecisive about Cali reds or others might just claim, "You lie!" We like to think we have increasingly fluid ideas about wine.
While the Lynmar Estate Pinot Noir we had last October was a good start, the 2002 Hanzell Vineyards Pinot Noir we drank the other night upped the ante for both California Pinot in general, and Sonoma Valley more specifically. This was by no means a perfect wine, but a terrific example of not overextending one's assets. That is to say, ripe fruit was abundant, but because of the care taken in making this wine, layers of herbs, stone and acidity mix to form a lovely, soft, balanced wine. The current release (2006) is priced at $95--without having tasted it, it's hard to comment, but let's just say the price for this vintage (about $70 online) is just about right. We rate this an 8.5 out of 10.