T h e N e w L e t t e r i s . . .
T is for Tasting Notes.
Bien Nacido Vineyard Barrel #1 of 4 has Sold Out.
This begs a Frequently Asked Question:
What 'Specific Barrel Bottling' should I buy now?
So I pondered this question on an Autumn afternoon....
The Bruce H. Rector Winery
Bien Nacido Vineyard
Barrels #2, #3, and #4 of 4 Barrels Bottled
( Barrel #1 of 4 has Sold Out )
October 30, 2006
One of our practices, when it is warranted, is to bottle a single barrel with designation.
In the case of all of our Bien Nacido Vineyard vintages, this vineyard has warranted
‘Specific Barrel Bottling’.
It is at the moment of pressing that the barrel gains its identity.
Ever after, the barrel is racked and seen as an individual until bottling.
And it is charming how these individuals develop their own character.
Because Barrel #1 of 4 has sold out, I am tasting Barrels #2, #3, and #4.
What all three of these barrels have in common is the Bien Nacido trademark of aroma, presence,
and being wines of a specific place. I describe this trademark like this:
Start by imagining the classic flavors of Pinot: a mild wintergreen mint, with a bit of pine needle,
the mildest suggestion of smoky-earth, and that is the starting point of what all
classic Pinot Noirs have. The Bien Nacido Vineyard then makes its mark by putting that
in the context of a strawberry/cherry background, and a spice on top that is
reminiscent of black pepper with the tang of grapefruit.
That is this wine!... in every barrel of the 4 bottled.
Now, how about the individual characters? Barrel #2 is our Library Reserve.
Not because it is so much better, but because of sentimental reasons.
It is the first barrel that Krassimira and I ever bottled together.
It is the most elegant of the three with a slightly lighter color and has a finer,
more delicate nose. The bearing of the body is a very pleasant surprise, with that rare
combination of smoothness and power. The acid and tannin are resolving themselves with an
attractive intrigue of play. We will leave the description at that, because it is priced such that it
will have a chance to be bottle aged. In another three years we will report its progress.
This leaves Barrels #3 and #4 which are differentiated by nuances.
Both are fine examples of the Bien Nacido trademark.
Which do I like better?
Well, I’m not sure...
but if you want to come over for dinner, we can try to decide one more time.
If pressed for my perception, with the wine having about an hour and a half of breathing time, I
would say Barrel #3 has a bit more of the trademark. But Barrel #4 has the trademark loud-and-
clear with the addition of some interestingly wild characters which are just elusive enough to
avoid detailed description.
If I’m pressed again... I would say that Barrel #3 is a little more showy right now. But which will
age better? The feeling that I have had consistently since bottling is that #4 gets the nod for age-
ability. Barrel #1 showed the best first. However, if I were you, I would weight my aging
collection toward #4, and use #1 to delay the day of opening Barrel #4. I will need another year
to tell you which will age better, #2 or #3, but then again, I have a soft-spot for Barrel #2.
Noting these differences is a bit of a folly because these wines change so much with breathing.
And that is a good thing. It is a delight to go back to the glass and find something you didn’t
notice before. The degree of their changing also makes it a horse race that won’t quite stay
organized enough to definitively write about it; so different, but differentiated by nuances.
What is the case with all of the barrels (#1 through #4) is that they have great body.
It is the sort of feel that is a pleasure to let linger. And as a winegrower, it is really nice to know
that we were able to achieve this with just the most classic and traditional cellar techniques.
This is the real stuff, no tricks, nothing to patch up a faulty construction.
Wines like these are living proof that certain vineyards have everything it takes to
give the most luxurious enjoyment.
What does need to be added to the wine is a well-set table and loved ones.
These wines live up to our dream:
they make your table magical and memorable.