Pinot Breath Clears the Air

spartacusmastersWEB.jpgIt must be the end of the first quarter in the new decade. Expectations for change are high. The White House has found its cojones and set a new tone for in-your-face confrontation. Whatever, it seems like it is time to clear the deck on several items of marginal interest for which discriminating palates have grown exceedingly tired and for whom or which time has run out. Hold on to your Pinot balloon bowl. We’re going head hunting.
The Masters – “a tradition like no other.” tBoW will watch it (and place a few wagers) like every other dopey male but like a growing number the sound will be OFF so I will not have to listen to the tinkling piano keys of the CBS director’s idea of antebellum porch music. And I will have the remote handy to switch to anything else when they cut to Jim Nantz in the Butler Cabin unless the interview is Bo Diddley or Bo Weeks.
The week-before marketing for the Masters has got to go. tBow sees a new approach where the Starz Network gets free rein and marries Amen Corner with the Spartacus series. Togas, sword fighting and lots of soft core humping. And bring back Gary McCord so he can roam the course. Otherwise, take the whole stupid production off the freaking air and leave it to webcasting.
Now that we have addressed those mushkillas [ed. Saudi for problems] what about wine? This is a wine blog. FIFTEEN PERCENT alcohol is not wine. It is a mistake and it is avoidable. Pick earlier. Prune later. ostrich-largeWEB.jpgAlcohol levels this high are especially indefensible in Pinot Noir.This is a warning. The 2010 vintage in Santa Rita Hills has got to be reined in so the winemakers can once again make Pinot Noir that is drinkable without puckering one’s mouth like an ostrich eating peanut butter.
By the way, if you are a Pinotphile you should read Wes Hagen’s very heartfelt article in the April 5 LA Times magazine. Wes, who is the erudite and thoughtful winemaker at Clos Pepe VIneyards, penned a very worthwhile piece on the origins of the Santa Rita Hills and how the mountains got turned sideways [ed. you ARE cheeky]. Wes also describes his love affair with Pinot Noir being careful to include his wife in the threesome.
It is remarkable how many Pinot Noir lovers have a seminal story about discovering the wine which often includes a Burgundy. SRH-gangsters-of-wineWEB.jpgWes is an avid golfer as well as a phenomenal winemaker. We wish Wes would discuss the problem of high alcohol levels that plagues SRH wines. He does make an oblique reference to producing what the public wants versus what the winemaker aspires to make which he suggests is probably more elegant and age worthy. We agree! We are sure the high 14+% levels can be controlled. If they were we might buy more SRH Pinots but for now we prefer how alcohol is being handled by producers like Toby Hill and Navarro in the Anderson Valley.
Having turned the focus to Pinot Noir we can consider a more appealing subject – the hunt for great Pinot at reasonable prices. The tBoW tasting team is traveling to the Portland Indie Wine Festival in early May. Last year’s trip was reported in detail on this blog as this year’s sojourn will also be covered. Our focus is Pinot Noir. The festival wines have been jury selected and the choices do stir excited anticipation. Nice to see a few more $20 selections in the field this year. The 2008 vintage is highly touted in Oregon and many 2008 selections will be featured.
For now…a group of stragglers that made their way past our lips.
2005 Adobe Guadaloupe Miguel
$40: Made by the region’s resident master winemaker Hugo d’Acosta, a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Grenache and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon tBoW would place in the rogue blend grouping. It works. Dark red color, dense mid-weight quality. Lean and sinewy. Tannic with choco flavors. Fragrant nose of plums and cocoa. No saltiness frequently found with Guadaloupe wines. Nice just not outstanding. 13.4%

2004 McKenzie-Mueller Cabernet Franc $26 (wine club): Cinnamon and baked ginger on the nose. Salty and sulfuric. Somewhat feral. But the alcohol is way too high and you can taste it at 15.2%
goatbubblesWEB.jpg2008 Flying Goat Goat Bubbles Sparkling Brut Ros√© $32: Sparkling “Ros√© de Noir” from Santa Ynez winemaker made from Santa Maria fruit sourced to Flying Goat Cellars. Excellent, good mousse, dry and balanced. Yummy. Welcome to springtime. May be available for less if you shop around. 12.7%
Watson shot a 67 today. As usual the course looks perfect…like a SILENT dream. [ed. there’s another kind?]


  1. Wavatar
    Wes Hagen says:

    I tried to be as judicious as possible regarding style in the LAT article, reining in some of my more extreme beliefs on the subject.
    I do believe that wines tend to lose their ‘somewhereness’ and vineyard typicity at about 14.5+ alcohol. Of course acidity and baby fat can make them taste balanced in their youth–but when they begin to age the fat falling off allows the alcohol to stick out like a sore thumb and make the wines awkward and clumsy.
    This is my own personal view of the subject–I do believe that restraint and elegance are NOT bad words, and i would always prefer to eat with a ‘jazzy’ wine over a ‘heavy metal’ wine.

  2. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    The LAT Magazine article showed admirable restraint and the tectonic info was cool. I especially liked the clockwise reference. Made me think of the tectonic plates like a “divers” watch. I think 15% is over the top on alcohol levels. In the past year we tasted a 2006 (05?) Melville Syrah and Pinot Noir, both select vineyards and both over 15%. Put them in a bag and you cannot tell which is which although you would have a fifty-fifty chance guessing. There was plenty of baby fat to cover the heat seeking alcohol. I like the way you mix media applying film and music to wine. I think it is a good way for wine-ers to find their inner palate. As for jazzy, shold we expect a Sir Duke wine anytime soon? I see Clos Pepe in my future!

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