By The Glass
California’s pinot noirs of 2006 are outstanding
A few articles ago, I wrote of how 2006 pinot noir production in California was way down in numbers and how prices have significantly increased. Now that I have tasted a few, I have some additional observations.
In general, the 2006s are much lighter in color than the '04s and '05s, with much more apparent perfume and higher acidity levels. They are very much about elegance.
The '06 Au Bon Climat "La Bauge Au-dessus" ($28), for example, is absolutely stunning, quite feminine, alluring and wonderfully scented.
I could make similar statements about some of my perennial favorites Melville "Estate" ($31), WH Smith "Sonoma Coast" ($27) and the Brewer Clifton "Rio Vista Vineyard" ($45).
I absolutely love them!
Two others, the Whitcraft "Morning Dew Vineyard" ($50) and Whitcraft "Morning Wood" ($60) bottlings. They are, without a doubt, two of the finest California pinot noirs I have ever had. Both are produced from the Morning Dew Vineyard up in Anderson Valley, owned by Burt Williams, formerly of Williams & Selyem.
Unlike many of their peers, these two pinots have incredible depth, pedigree and soulfulness, without any sense of heaviness. It's a style normally found in pinot noirs produced in Burgundy, France.
Yes, they are pricey, but for you Burgundy collectors, they are certainly worth checking out.
Wine lovers are discovering that it is getting harder and harder to find good pinot for under $20 a bottle. But those looking for more value-oriented wines should check out the 2006 Carmel Road Pinot Noir ($18). Produced from Monterey grapes by the Kendall-Jackson wine group, the '06 is round, gentle and delicious.
Let's shift focus and highlight a couple of newly released cabernet sauvignons from California:
If you prefer a snazzy, flashy, showy style, check out the 2005 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($29). I liked the 2004 a lot, and the new release is also quite good.
In Napa Valley, a few young Turks are crafting some cabernets well worth checking out. One of them is Dave Finney, who is making a cab-based red he's named Beau Vigne. The estate vineyard is 1,350 feet above the Stags Leap District, up toward Atlas Peak. Like many of the Stags Leap wines, the 2005 "Juliet's" ($50) is an "iron fist in a velvet glove," a lovely wine.
Those looking for value should really check out the 2005 Green Lion Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is produced from Napa Valley grapes under the watchful, talented eye of superstar Australian winemaker, Chris Ringland. At $20 or so a bottle, one can only marvel at such a discovery.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org