Santa Rita Hills taste-off crowns Paul Lato (AGAIN)

It is axiomatic to oenophiles that you have to sit on some wines for awhile so the wine can develop in the bottle. I am coming to the conclusion that this is just one more corollary to the magic chef and the hallowed ground marketing themes that have created the Parker/Rolland two headed monster. Wine does age in the bottle. But does it get better? Recent pourings/tasting have concluded otherwise. The 1996 Burgundies flopped like Vlade Divac taking a charge. And here we have some pinot noir bottlings from the fabled Santa Rita Hills that also fell well below high expectations when purchased on release.
To be fair, tBoW must own being swept up willingly in the SRH hype and falling for the bombastic fruit forward styles that came from the region. How times and palates change.
This was a somewhat free-form tasting that began with white wines of curious interest and closed with five “heavy hitters”. Be sure to check out very good friend David McMillan’s delirious and delicious political content at the end of this post.
treana white 2006.jpg2006 Treana Central Coast Mer Soleil Monterey $10: Purchased online at 55% Viognier 45% Marsanne. Dotor√© asks “what are they aiming for with this wine”? Too much oak, alcohol, everything. More like a California chardonnay than a white Rhone blend. Awful. Whatever they were aiming for it could not have been this wine. 14.5%
Andre_Perret_Joseph_White.jpg2005 Andre Perret St Joseph $40: A Robert Chadderton selection and the first I have found unimpressive. Highly regarded producer. Would like to taste his reds. Foxy flavors make the Marsanne Rousanne blend taste more like a Viognier. Worth $15 but not what tBoW paid. At least the alcohol is a decent level. 13%
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1999 Jean Luc Colombo Le Rouet Blanc Hermitage
: Online press on this winemaker is appealing; terroir driven, opinionated, non-traditional. However, this wine did not show well. Acidic and lean out of the bottle. Out of balance. “Nun piss” says an irreverent taster who will never be on Chris Matthews. Somewhat madeirized. Parker says “mature”. Soiled flavor as in earth. Not a very good wine. [ed. had to go with red label]
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2006 Curran Grenache Blanc
$26: tBoW is a Curran fan. This 2006 has been reviewed on two other occasions prior. It may be heading over the hill. Fruit presence more pronounced than old world wines squeezing life from our tongues. Marked contrast to the Rhone efforts. But the wine is out of whack. Enough time has passed to come around as these wines seem to need 12 months. We are struck by how generally mediocre are the white wines, despite expectations.
lamargue.jpg2005 Lamargue Costieries de Nimes $10: At the insistence of our honored guest we opened this delightful bottle from Languedoc. 50% Grenache Blanc, 50% Rousanne in the blend, reasonably balanced, gentle enough to sip gently, low enough alcohol to sip again and again, and easily the best of class on this day. Great value. 13.5%
disappointed and unimpressed with the white Rhones we moved on to the featured showing…Santa Rita Hills pinot noir.
These wines came right out of the tBoW cellars of yours truly and Dotoré where they have been since release.
ojai clos pepe.jpg2002 Ojai Clos Pepe $40: What could be better than pairing the original Santa Barbara/Central Coast winemaker Adam Tolmach with one of the premium new era growers (and winemaker) Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe. The wine is awkward and even a bit vegetal. Truly Adam Tolmach is somewhat of a tortured soul. Take a moment to read his own notes on this wine. I prefer his Syrah wines.
southing_lg-711449.gif2002 Sea Smoke Southing $50: Rich, dense pinot fruit. Very smoky even though that has nothing to do with the label name. Let’s pretend it does. Entry level for the most collectable SRH label. But not the best wine from the region!! 14.3%
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2004 Kenneth Crawford Clos Pepe Pinot Noir
$40: Thin, acidic, more like a vin ordinaire Syrah from southwest France. Something happened here between the vintage, harvest and vinification. Further evidence that Syrah is the wine to seek from SRH? I’m convinced. [ed. I never noticed how similar are the Sea Smoke and K-C labels.]
melville2 caries 02.jpg2002 Melville Carrie’s VIneyard Pinot Noir $60: That is correct sir. We ponied up three Jacksons for this monster wine. It is rich. It is ripe. It is eating the little dog. This wine, alcohol and all, was preferred to the K-C, Sea Smoke and Ojai efforts. Nobody would ever confuse this with an old world pinot noir. But they might confuse it with a zinfandel port from Sonoma. 15.1%
paullatolabel.jpg2004 Paul Lato Goldcoast Pinot Noir $30: Elegant, balanced, delicate, smooth, silky, some smoke. Paul gets it right every time. In the vintages tBoW owns he made 75 cases. Why didn’t we buy more? That’s right, we had a limit. Dumbkopf!! 14.5%
So here is the real question. Given the recent tastings of SRH and Burgundy (avoiding impulse to write French Burgundy), from which region is tBoW likely to pick his next pinot noir wine? Domestic, and in the following order….Williams Selyem and Paul Lato in a dead heat; then select Oregon bottlings, then select SRH bottlings. If we go “old world” we will be looking for recent vintages from less fashionable regions….from Becky Wasserman and North Berkeley Wines.
Still have a taste for satire and a contemporary POV? Try David McMillan’s News In Color on youtube. 75 entires and climbing. Here is one of my currents faves. WARNING: this material can be political.

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