the   T a s t e   of   the    V i n t a g e s   in   W o r d s
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B r i c k h i l l   and   B i e n   N a c i d o   V i n e y a r d s


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This section has notes for the following wines:
(
don't give up, keep scrolling down )
2004 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, Barrels 1, 3, & 4
of  6
2003 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, Barrels 2, 3, & 4
of  4
2003 Brickhill Vineyard, Entrance Hill Block, Saddle East Block, & Pablo's Point
2003, 2004, 2005 Sparkling Syrah, Brut
Lot 34 Pinot du Jour



Tasting Notes
for
AHH  2005 Bien Nacido Vineyards
Santa Maria Valley

Barrel #'s 1, 2, 3 & 4 of  4 Barrels bottled                       Tasted: October 16th 2009

This vintage is living proof of the value of bottling barrel by barrel.
If I was a neophyte winemaker, I would be quite rattled by the amount of difference
each barrel exhibits, but that's not my problem or yours.
I can tell you how it all comes to be:
Each barrel has its own
microbiological zoo.
And as you can read elsewhere, reference, we believe that the only way to make truly connective
wines is to have the presence of life.  Life really needs to be there.
The Good-Life needs to be there outside of the bottle, and if you want to take the wine
to new highs, having life inside of the bottle is the way to go.
For that to happen we are permissive about letting each barrel develop
in its best possible way (read: most interesting way), such that
the engendering their own personalities is charming.
Sounds like growing up a good family, doesn't it?

Welcome to the school for children,
Rector's Rearings.

So the kids have graduated, been to finishing school too,
and this is how their charms turned out:

Barrel #1 of 4  -  As with most first-borns, there is a desire to please, and this is no exception.
This is classic Bien Nacido.  What that means is explained in the 2004 tasting notes below.
The wine is replete with the vineyard's trademark.  It has that intriguing combination of
assertive and smooth at the same time.  It will age well.  The structure of the acidity
and the finish tip you off to that.  It deserves to be in the Library.

Barrel #2 of 4  -  Once the first-born has occupied their chosen niche, then all the rest that
come along have to find theirs.  You can't call this barrel a bully, but you can say it tends
to get its way.  This is charming only if you find assertiveness charming.  There is this phrase
"fruit-forward", well this is everything-forward.  It was the last one to be released and at this
tasting and at this point in time, I think it is ready.  It has a big body and a big heart too.

Barrel #3 of 4  -  This is the Library selection.  Myself, being a third-born, likes that.
The wine earned this distinction by having a complexity and allure that makes it stand out.
It is quite velvety, layered with different weights of velvet that makes even the most
straight and non-curious person want to look under each layer.  There you will find
the Bien Nacido trademark, classic Pinot Noir, elegant duff, and of course, charm.

Barrel #4 of 4  -  Yes, it seems every family needs a shy one.  This is it.  When I present
the wines for tasting, they are presented with at least two of the barrels.  And sure enough,
the shyness appears when in sibling competition.  But you know, in real-life, wines are judged one
at a time.  Only the most opulent host would open up all four bottlings at the same time.
But given that wines are usually a one-at-a-time proposition, when I take this over to someones
house and pour it around, it gets just as many smiles as any of the other kids.

And I want to thank you kids for having your own style of charm, so I can say,
I love you all equally.




Tasting Notes
for
2004 Bien Nacido Vineyard

                    Barrel #1
of  6              Tasted:  January 11th 2008

If you ever wanted to know what the terroir-trademark flavor of Bien Nacido is...
this is the vintage that will inform you.
2004 was a year of quick ripening and gives quite a bit of cause-for-pause for the
zealots of hang-time for grapes.  The grapes did not have to hang on the vine
for more than was necessary for proper sugar ripeness in order to get incredibly
full and intense flavor.  The proof is in the bottle.
It is simply delicious.

Then let's put into words, what is that terroir-trademark of Bien Nacido?
I scrolled down to a tasting note from December 12
th 2004 for the 2003 vintage and it said:
The nose gives the hallmark note of Bien Nacido.  It seems that no matter what block of the vineyard is used,
there are always the terroir themes: a gentle melding of grapefruit, black pepper,
and then that melded with a fusion of its own of mint, pine, and smokey-grapiness.
That is what it is like, again putting it into words, which is a poor excuse for bringing
a glass of this wine to the nose, it is like taking a peel of grapefruit and then sprinkling the
mildest black pepper you can imagine on the white part of the peel, and then letting that
high note etherealize into your senses.

If there were more of this wine, Karl Marx might have called it "the opiate of the masses."
And he would have been right, when you bring a glass of this to your nose and mouth,
you do forget about all exterior and interior pain, and yes, it does go onto suggest
the feeling of reverence you get when you walk into the best kind of cathedral.
But luckily Karl and I made a deal, we wouldn't make too much of it,
and he wouldn't give us any bad press on this religion thing.



Barrel #3 of  6        BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD       Tasted:  January 11th 2008

Barrel #3 is in the sisterhood of Barrel #1 with that strong statement of
terroir-trademark.  The difference is that if I were going to purchase for the sole intent
of putting another 5 years of bottle age onto this wine, I would go for #3 over #1.
Because it has more acidity.  Neither barrels have too much or too little, this barrel just has
that amount that says, "age me a bit, and I'll be there for you."
These differences are best seen in a side-by-side tasting, which we will be glad to put on for you.
But if its not side-by-side the same thrill of barrel #1 will be yours.
The wine has body and mouth-feel that is absolutely captivating.  It engages you without
demanding, rather it proposes.  It proposes, let's dance fast to this slow song, but let's do it
out on the balcony where people won't watch and it's cooler.  It's lively, yes?
Yes indeed!
This is the sort of romance that keeps us devoted to this vineyard.



Barrel #4 of 6         2004 BIEN NACIDO VINEYARDS      Tasted: October 11th 2008


Maybe that’s a little extravagant...  That is what I thought when we were on the verge of making
the decision to bottle our Pinot Noirs barrel-by-barrel.  That decision is now a four year old
decision, and in its senior year, it turned out to be right on point.
This wine is the living proof.  

At this point in my winegrowing life, I find it remorseful that I used to bottle wines by blending
them together in a tank every time they were racked.  Yes, they were all from the same vineyard,
but the barrels lost their identity in the process.  I understand why I did it...  it’s sort of a
vaccination against bi-polar disease.  The highs are gone and the lows are ‘gone’,
but not really gone.  The blending just brings them to the middle-of-the-road to make
life more manageable and predictable.  This is a legitimate urge in life,
but it doesn’t make for delivering the finest moments in wine loving.

Barrel #4 of 6 is not only living proof, the wine is living too.  The decision to bottle
barrel-by-barrel was valid, and this barrel validates having the wines living is the right decision.
It piques the pallet as well as drives the memory and imagination to be in places quite peaceful,
yet exciting.

The sight expresses a color that is as dark as we like to see Pinot.
We are not in the knee-jerk school of the darker the better.
A reasonable amount of light is able to make its way through a glass of it.
The nose does a fabulous job of avoiding anyone’s ability to put it into a sound-bite.
There is a rarely-seen dance of one partner leading then the other:
the Bien Nacido signature, and the most refined forest floor pull off the alternation.
The mouth is wow!  Admittedly, it is at the brink of having too much intensity, but the view is
always more beautiful closer to the edge of the cliff.  If you find there is a bit too much tactility to
the wine, just decant it with a splashing an hour or so before you enjoy it.
The cuisine match would include all of the classic ones.  And my current favorite is
fresh figs with about three different versions of Gorgonzola.
.

2003 Bien Nacido Vineyard Barrel #1 of 4 has Sold Out
(and Barrel #3 is about to sell-out,
sorry, it has, but #2 & #4 are still available in the Library).

So  this gives a little urgency to the Frequently Asked Question:
What 'Specific Barrel Bottling' should I buy now?
So I pondered this question one afternoon....


Tasting Notes
for
2003 Bien Nacido Vineyard

A comparison of Barrels #2, #3, and #4 of the 4 'Specific Barrel Bottlings'

                                                        
October 30, 2006

                                                                                   
Next Page
Barrel #2 is our Library Reserve 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 (see tasting notes in the Newsletter).
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
in the glass, 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’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.
.

2003 BIEN  NACIDO VINEYARD
Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

                    Tasting Barrel #2,   Tasted :  September 6, 2005

Well, we were able to wait, and we bottled it !!!
Wow, that was the right thing to do.
I am tasting this wine with three days of bottle age.
And it's terrific.
It's not in bottle shock.  How could it be?
We bottle by hand, with love and devotion
as explained.
How I am tasting it is in the lap of causal luxury
during a casual lunch with Krassi.
To have a wine this good while just sitting at the kitchen island is probably
what generates the romantic notion that winegrowing is romantic.
This wine is romantic in many senses of the word.
The color is bright and sparkling light comes through, just like we intend.
The nose changes appreciably for the first half of an hour, and the rate of change is
most unlike other wines, but this is how appreciating its nose started:
First, the deeper perfumes of earth are noticed, they subdue and yield to the
deeper perfumes and notes of berries and then fresh cassis.
( Krassi and I have one cassis bush and we got our first crop this year,
the fresh fruit is pure exotica by combining a red current taste with an
herbal taste, quite
unlike any cassis syrup you may have had. )
The nose equals depth.  It keeps you coming back, and as it breathes,
it gives you a new reward for every re-visit.
About mid-way through the initial breathing the classic Pinot themes of
mint/pine/smoke come forward, and they, in turn,
yield to the terroir trademarks of Bien Nacido.  Those trademarks of
black pepper and grapefruit are melded in at this point in the wine's life.
Now the intensity of nose comes.

It's time to taste.
The nose did a faithful job of telegraphing the taste, everything is there.
The body has that appropriate Burgundian weight.
This is true to form Pinot, not Cabernet.
That could be considered a drawback for those that haven't marveled at old Burgundy.
So to explain it another way, the wine in the mouth has that enigmatic quality of the
lightness and delicateness of a woman, and it has her strength and presence.
This enigma is why I am so happy to be devoting so much time to Pinot.
Something that is, which seemingly cannot be, is always fascinating.

The taste signals an ageability.  The sign is a combination of tannin and acidity that comes together
at the beginning of the finish.  It's not rough, but there is just the right
amount of grip there that says ageing will repay the patience.  

Our style is not to have oak be a component that can be singled out.
The vineyard gives plenty of complexity and just the right amount of sucrosity,
such that well-enough is best left alone.  True to style, the wines oak ageing left the
slightest wisps of vanilla where it takes the power of suggestion to pick it out.

This 100% Pinot Noir, and 100% Bien Nacido is 100% ready to come to the table.
To say that it is 'food friendly' is an inappropriate cliché.  Rather, the wine's
romantic nature
seems interested in seducing the food and the food seducing it.
So without further to-do, we are almost ready to present
the 2003 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, Barrel #2.
.

2003 BIEN  NACIDO VINEYARD  PINOT  NOIR,  Santa Maria Valley

                    Tasting Barrel #3,   Tasted :  December 12, 2004

I cannot wait to bottle this wine.
The color is on point (to our desires).  Although there are no brick colors now,
this vineyard tends to give them easily, and we are looking forward to that
first indication that the proper amount of time has been spent in the bottle.
The nose gives the hallmark note of Bien Nacido.
It seems that no matter what block of the vineyard is used, there are always the
terroir themes: a gentle melding of grapefruit, black pepper, and then that melded
with a fusion of its own of mint, pine, and smokey-grapiness.
Those trademark aromas of the vineyard have been complexed.
It is easy to see the complexity when you taste this barrel sample of 2003
in relation to the 2004.  The newer wine just has the trademark aromas at this point,
but with the stewardship of barreling, the elusive notes of Pinot Noir,
those notes that make Pinot-Nuts out of us,
stick their head up out of the glass.                  
The elusiveness to the evolving notes is based
somewhere between the earth and the manger.
So whatever gifts the three wise men might have left over, we'll take 'em.
The structure of the wine is just what someone that loves-to-have-it-both-ways enjoys,
without sacrificing one way for the other....
Have your cake and eat it too, because
the wine has the texture of tannins that are inviting you to drink now,
and the amount of acidity that says,
I'll be around in the bottle- don't rush to drink me up.
And our job is to not rush to get it into the bottle... so we can drink it up

...

Tasting Notes
for
BRICKHILL VINEYARD

2003 Saddle East Block,  Entrance Hill Block,  &  Pablo’s Point

                                                                          
November 5, 2006

I get a real kick out of proving myself wrong.  The problem is I jump to conclusions.
It seems like a survival trait as our complex world presents stimuli by the thousands.
But I just love it when an old dog can learn a new trick.

This is what happened when I set foot upon the Brickhill Vineyard:
I saw nothing but adobe.  And I saw hills.  So I named it Brickhill.
I jumped to the conclusion that this was going to be less than stellar Pinot property.
What never occurred to me was that the hill I was standing on had the perfect limestone
underneath it.  As it turns out, the adobe was placed there by the Petaluma River and then
uplifted.  Eons before that, the ocean existed there; depositing an uncountable number of shells
and homes of sea creatures.  All of these ancient abodes got the full-court-press and transformed
into limestone.  This makes the ideal site for Pinot Noir, I just hadn’t scratched the surface.

Despite my reservations about the adobe clay, there was one particular part of the vineyard that
caught my attention.  The vines were struggling to put out just one or two clusters per arm.  
So I made wine and was very pleasantly surprised.  Seven vintages later I share these
tasting notes on this block, Saddle East, and 2 others: Entrance Hill and Pablo’s Point.

Starting with the Library Reserve, Saddle East: this vineyard block yields the stellar aging potential
for the whole vineyard.  It is true Pinot, quite classic.  Classic Pinot Noir must have
these characteristics...   a very mild wintergreen mint; with a bit of pine needle; the mildest
suggestion of smoky-earth; and a background of dark, almost brooding, berries.
So far, so good.

Now this is why I consider these few rows of Pinot Noir to be so classic:
Nothing sticks out to pander to sensationalism.  This wine is stately and refined.
Is it boring?, stuffy?, quite the contrary.  There is a power of beauty that can only be enjoyed
when a person sees a lady that needs no make-up, and looks breathtaking.

This block/vintage/bottling has the stage perfectly set for the rich and rewarding drama of bottle
aging.  We have reserved it to our library and priced it accordingly such that the
probability of it being available when it is properly bottle aged will be high.

Asking the question of the two remaining blocks, Entrance Hill Block and Pablo’s Point,
which is most appropriate for current enjoyment?
Both...  but it’s a matter of preference.
To oversimplify it... if you like it on the red-fruit side, pick Pablo’s Point;
if you like darker fruit, pick Entrance Hill.
Now the problem with over-simplification is that it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The fruitiness of these two wines do not suck-up to the novice.  I have heard people describe them
as fruity, but I respectfully disagree.  The stateliness of them has more to offer than your basic fruit-
bomb.  Both offer those mysterious under-notes that tell you: I want this in my cellar.  They both
will age well.  That I know.
Yet I’m sorry that I can’t give you a better answer as to when they will peak.
My guess for the Pablo’s Point?  I would say anywhere between 2008 and 2012.
I put it on the earlier side because the multitude of different forms of cherry
(baked and fresh) and the spice it has right now gives a charm that I really love.
The Entrance Hill is more pensive with a mixture of black-fruits that gives
a nod to mulberries.  This suggests a range between 2011 and 2018.
The tannins are more forward and will fully resolve in a year or two.
Which is better?   Like I say... come over for dinner and we will examine the issue.

Talking about aging potential suggests that you should
only put them away for later enjoyment.  
That’s folly!  It is wise to put a percentage away, but all of it?  No!
They now have a little over a year of bottle age and they are just starting to hit their stride.
Their body makes that stride big but not ungainly.  The acidity is perfectly lively, and has
its first bit of rounding.  They have that full amount and generosity of aromas that give
a new impression every time you re-visit the glass after a few minutes of pause.
I believe in having beautiful things for everyday living,
and all three of these offerings fill the bill.

...
OOH

2005 BRICKHILL VINEYARD SPARKLING SYRAH, BRUT

Four barrels produced                              Tasted: December 26, 2008


The most important thing about this wine is to not over-chill it.
Now for a sparkling wine, that sounds different, doesn’t it?
Well, the differences are delightful.

This wine is not your typical Johnny-one-note celebration accoutrement.
It’s true, it can party with the best of them, but it has so much more to give than that.
The biggest difference for me is that it’s so interesting.  And that interest is still in the
domain of things that make classic sparkling wines and Champagnes so interesting.

Albeit, the wine has a beautiful ruby color, it is striking how classic this wine is.
It is perfectly, and seriously dry.  This vintage stays in the classic, not moving up on
the popular softening with a little bit more sugar in the dosage.  Bubbles and acidity
play nicely together with neither sticking out.  And as with a classic version,
there is nothing in the flavor that protrudes.  Which is not to say there isn’t complexity.
You can find lots of different berries, some dried, some fresh.  But it’s hard to name them
precisely.  They seem familiar but exotic...  a goji berry comes to mind for instance.

Another striking thing about this wine is its barrel character.  This is totally missed if it is served
too chilled, which is the reason for the admonition up top.
Here is how the barrel aging happens: after the wine spends its few days in the fermenter,
it is pressed to barrel.  The barrels are about 3 years old, so the oak hit is diminished,
but the complexity that comes from the micro-community of a barrel is there and alluring.
As the wine warms up in the glass, it only becomes more interesting,
nice difference.

The delightful differences of this wine should be no surprise if you have ever seen this
hillside vineyard.  Quite unlike where most sparkling wine is grown.
It is very close to the top of the vineyard where the soils are quite thin and the limestone is
poking through.  Don’t miss a picnic up there.  Enjoy the view of the City across the bay,
and the overlook of the Petaluma Gap.  We will even let you help us pick the grapes.
The picnic could be... dates stuffed with goat gouda and wrapped in basil leaves and prosciutto;
a butter-leaf salad with sweet Gorgonzola, apples, and caramelized walnuts;
a hot or cold soup of butternut squash puree with cumin and a bit of cayenne;
and dessert of fresh and juicy blueberries eaten out of your hand.
You can guess we are quite happy with the vintage, it’s our style of serious fun.



2004 B
RICKHILL VINEYARD BRUT SPARKLING SYRAH

Two barrels produced                                Tasted: August 7, 2008

We are often asked how we came to make Sparkling Syrah.  The answer is a birthday party.
Every year, Bruce and Krassimira celebrate Krassi’s birthday by going out to lunch with just
each other as a cozy couple, and trying to spend more money than we did the previous year.
So this particular year, 2003, we enjoyed a luncheon at Auberge de Soliel above the hills of
Rutherford in the Napa Valley.  The restaurant is quintessential Napa Valley with a terrace and
a beautiful view, great food, and people hanging around with gobs more money than we have.

We ordered a bottle of Australian Sparkling Syrah and we were assured by the sommelier
that it was dry.  It wasn’t.  Not sweet, but not dry, and it was nevertheless pretty tasty.
Krassi and I looked at each other and said, “we can do better than this.”
From my experience making sparkling wine cuvées, I knew it was a true statement.
Couple that with the fact that people started pointing toward our table and asking
their wait-staff, “what are they drinking?”.  We both thought, if we can do better,
and the wine is getting this kind of attention,
this is not rocket-science, Let’s Do It !

So we did.  We are coming up on our fifth vintage of Sparkling Syrah,
and this was our second.  We are quite pleased with it.  It is fun, interesting, it is a food wine,
as well as the ultimate symbol of celebration.  From the sight of it, people are anywhere from
fascinated to elated when you first pour it into the glass.
Its red color says WoW and the bubbles say FUN.
         
With the great introduction of the color, the nose continues to fascinate with a piquing
of the interest.  There is depth that doesn’t  accompany most sparkling wines.
There is deep fruit in the aroma, but the volume of fruity aroma is restrained like most other
sparklers.  The fruit suggests blue berries, mostly dried blue berries, but there are high-notes of
fresh blueberries.  There’s no oak aroma, but you do sense that it was barrel fermented in a
neutral barrel.  The nose has the best kind of interest, it interests you in taking a sip.

When you sip, the first thought that comes to mind is plain old enjoyment with a
typical thought of : Hey, I can get used to this, -or-  Hey, this is refreshing!
Then the mind goes to work on all of the other points of interest.  The bubbles are just right,
which is difficult to achieve because of the very small scale on which it is made.
After that great feel of the effervescence, the aromas of dried blueberries in the nose yield to
fresh blueberries with their hint of mint character in the taste.

The wine has backbone, but that is because of the acid, not because of the tannin.
An over-extraction of tannin would be possible because the red grape skins are present
during the first part of the fermentation.  We keep a careful eye on the tannin by very gently
punching-down by hand, using our hands, not a device, and timing the pressing so it will be
just right.  The wine has a relatively long finish for a sparkling wine,
given the bubbles tend to cut that experience short.

Most of our cuisine matches with this wine tend to be with starting courses.
For example, the
Faux Laundry menu notes for the second time we put on that righteous
happening, it was the first course.  Also see the
Theory of Syrah Matching.  Almost any recipe that
use goat cheese or blue cheese as an ingredient will go well.  It is also sensational with sushi.
One of the most sensational things is to take it along on a picnic in the Brickhill Vineyard.
Give us a call, we will be glad to take you there.

So this wine fulfills a dream for me...  when I was a kid, I often thought,
when I grow-up I’m going to build a really cool sandbox to play in.
And that’s what we’ve done...  Sparkling Syrah.
We hope you get in some quality play-time too.


2003 B
RICKHILL VINEYARD  BRUT ZERO SPARKLING SYRAH
Sonoma Coast

        1 barrel produced             Tasted:  December 2, 2006      

The Brut Zero Syrah is a food wine, rather than being used as
a celebratory wine by itself.  It is served chilled, but doesn't need to be ice cold.
It has a very dry and refreshing way about it.  The blackberry/blueberry character is restrained,
such that it doesn't carry any of the old baggage that Australian versions of this wine
have produced with their edge of sweetness and forward fruit.

We have found the wine to be a wonderful as an appetizing meal starter when matched with
bite size morsels that include goat or blue cheese with dates or dried figs.

                                                   
The Theory of Sparkling Syrah Matching
...
LOT 34  PINOT DU JOUR
California Pinot Noir

          2 barrels produced             Tasted :  January 24th 2006       

This is my birthday wine !   But of course, any wine that I enjoy today
will be my birthday wine, because today's my birthday.  
Thanks Mom, thanks Dad, 56 years of good work, if I do say so myself.
And I do enjoy this wine !
Isn't it wonderful how opportunities present themselves to all of us?
Pinot du Jour comes about because we use 'specific barrel' bottling with all
of our vineyard designates, except when we use 'married barrel' bottlings.
To explain the details:  Wine evaporates in the barrel because of the open cellular structure
of the wood, and you have to top it up or the barrel gets lower and lower, and pretty soon
you will be making vinegar.  In order to have topping wine, you need to make more than
one barrel of each lot you intend to produce from that vineyard.  How much more is an
imprecise craft, so there are some large fiascos, carboys, and jugs that are left over at
bottling time.  We had great consternations over what to do with these jugs.
Do we represent them as the specific barrels?  They are from the same vineyard.
We didn't feel 101% confident and comfortable with that proposition,
so we started to think harder.  I can't remember if Krassimira or I said it, but one of us said,
'Supposing we make a really good soup with it', lightning struck twice: how to blend it,
and what to name it.  So these little jewels sitting around the cellar were assembled.
The marriage was mostly the product of the Bien Nacido Vineyard (Santa Maria Valley
appellation).  With that step known, we said, I wonder what this would be like with
some Brickhill Vineyard in it (Sonoma Coast appellation).
We tried it, we liked it a lot, so we did it.
Although it didn't end up as a single vintage (half and half '03/'04), and without a single
appellation, it did prove that two pedigreed pets can make opulent offspring:
it mutt be good.
Good enough that we are already planning the next bottling.

To give you a taste in words for this wine,
a funny phrase comes to mind:
fantastically adequate.
But you have to remember that in this household, the high-bar of what is adequate,
is quite high.  As Krassimira and I sat down to our four course dinner,
just the two of us mind you, it was a hit!

The first course that it was served with was yellow crook-neck squash that had been mashed
with fresh garlic, nonfat cream cheese and seasoned with just salt and pepper.
Next time I make it, I think a little dried time would be a Pinot-friendly addition.
The mashed squash was a thick puddle (puddle is a word of endearment in this home), and
on top of that was a small slice of a leftover rice casserole.  I had made the casserole from
forbidden rice, which is black, Peruvian radishes, which are also black, and
wild rice, black again.  This was seasoned with salt, pepper and curry, then once the rice was
tender, I added Marsala and topped it with a mixture of nonfat sour cream, veggie-
shred 'cheeses', more Marsala, and a little more curry, the topping ended up white.
I took it from the microwave and finished it under the broiler.
We both thought the dish was great, absolutely good enough to serve to guests.

I tell this long recipe-story to illustrate that finding a wine that arises to this
culinary occasion just can't be good, it has to be
fantastically adequate.

And yes, the color has our trademark of being appropriate for Pinot Noir,
light can dance through it and at the same time, their is a delicious looking depth to it.
Because this is a blend of vintages and years, there is not a singular bell-ringing descriptor
to describe it.  Instead the bell-ringer is, 'Yes -  this is Pinot.'  It has the spice that Pinot should
have (it can stand up to curry), it has the elusiveness that Pinot should have (it invites the next
sip), and it has the classic Pinot qualities (the melange of mint, pine, spice, and the implication
of earth).  The alcohol level is under control, which leaves ethereal scents rushing up the
olfactory slit, rather than just straight booze.  The acidity level is right, and takes its
job of supporting itself and all the other aspects of structure seriously.
And it is the tannin level and feel that has come together in such a
way that it passes my expectations.  It has that softness that only Pinot
seems to be able to deliver, and there is nothing flabby about it (the acidity
taking its job seriously).  The phenolic structure to it will allow it to age gracefully.
How long?  Always a good question.  My informed guesses are that it will peak in 2009,
and be on that transforming mesa until 2019, and at that point it is probably a good idea to
dispatch the last of it before it falls off the other side of the plateau of transformation.

So if 'fantastically adequate' still perplexes you, and it does me a little bit;
I'd try, 'You know, this is
really good!'

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