Pinot Noir: A Modern Day Miracle…plus an Exquisite 1995 Barolo

Burgundy Gran Cru

Harmony and beauty. Pinot Noir is to vinifera what monks are to the institutional church [ed. Holy Bordeaux?]. Alone, isolated, ascetic, monastic. No wonder Pinot Noir can become something divine as wine. My basic expectations from Pinot Noir wine include delicate balance even if “delicate” runs the gamut from Natalie Portman to Dita von Teese; tender fruit like a butterfly lighting on a flower in Spring (choices here include strawberry, cherry, beets and stinky-poo forest floor); and on infrequent occasions mystery and magic like the “subject” experiences in the fantasy tripping for the first time.

it’s so beautiful

Used to be the only decent Pinot Noir came from Burgundy until Williams Selyem and Rochioli set a domestic mark in Sonoma. Now one can expect excellent Pinot Noir wines from Oregon, Sonoma and along with the Anderson Valley and Santa Ynez in California.

The beastly cold front of 40 degrees overnight in LA finally broke… replaced with daytime temps in the 80s and hitting 70 at 10 PM. With the speed of LaMichael James (where’d he go with my 3 points?) the tBoW tasting team saw the opportunity to pull some corks on some Harmony and Beauty. We report on three delightful regional examples of Pinot Noir which could only be followed by Barolo. Pinot Noir can be preceded by other wonderful wines – Beaujolais, Macon Villages – but Pinot Noir is best followed by Italian Nebbiolo. Here is what got popped…in chrono.

2008 Ann Gros Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits $28: tBoW was holding onto this for the other premier tasting members, IGTY, Dotor√© and their incredibly fortunate spousal units. A solid winner soon as it hit the glass. “The color is so light.” Nose of doughiness, smoky-ish and fruitful. Keeps opening up but…oh look…it’s all gone! 13%


2007 Seven of Hearts Eola-Amity Hills The Cost Vineyard Pinot Noir
$30: Only 49 cases – not that it means anything except we have probably had our first and last bottle.

Willamette 1er Cru

Byron Dooley is making some terrific wines in Carlton. When we use the term Burgundian for domestic Pinot Noir we use it with begrudging enthusiasm. This is Burgundian – friendly and sophisticated, dark color, middle weight. Reminds me I saw some of the 2008 Wahle in an off-the-beaten-path local wine store for under $20. Time to retrieve some of that. No waiting around for this bottle’s contents to disappear. 13%

2007 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir Cork Dancer 7.1 $25: IGTY bought half a case so the local retailer discounted it 16%. Delicious wine! You gotta be careful with IGottaTellya. Sometimes he tosses a mangy mutt in with the primo sled team. Not this time.

Santa Ynez 1er Cru

Nothing Burgundian. New world to be sure but nicely balanced and downright restrained for 14.3% and Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. In case you’re keeping count this is the first of ten different bottlings made by HP in 2007. Made us think of J Wilkes wines from the same region. But you gotta buy half a case. 14.3%

Wouldn’t you know it. No sooner did the Hitching Post bottle get drained than the Missusses started calling for more vino. Took about 5 seconds for tBoW to fetch the next and final bottle.

1995 Gianfranco Alessandria San Giovanni Barolo $40-$70 (today): This is the Gianfranco Alessandria small family owned and operated winery in Monforte d’Alba produces ~500 cases of their black label Barolo annually. 1995 was regarded as a good vintage that was not 1996 which was a superb vintage. Pretty sure Broki carried this back from Piedmont in his backpack “I can get more in here Pop.” Absolutely beautiful… once it opened which took about 20 minutes. So seductive in how this wine reveals itself. At first it is somewhat stiff, firm but hardly muscular. Not even sinewy. Just tight. Then the nose opens showing cinnamon. Then the taste profile showing sweetness, cranberries, fruit cake. Put me at the junction where Barolo meets Burgundy because I would like to hang around this corner for a long while. With about half a mixed case of the early to mid 90s vintages left I am starting to feel a tinge of remorse. 13.5%

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