One of the most outstanding events among the 19 held over a 5 day period for the Central Coast Wine Classic held August 10-14 was a Pinot Noir Symposium held at the recently re-opened and grandly refurbished Santa Barbara Inn.
A 9 winemaker panel was moderated by good friend and wine intellect and aficionado, Patrick Will, who is associated with the first class wine company, Vintus. Patrick so competently introduced each panelist and gave a brief resume for each prior to their own discussion of their wines.
The panelist were comprised of Robin Baggett of Tolosa, Gary Pisoni of Lucia [and Pisoni], Rick Longoria of Longoria, Eric Hickey of Laetitia, Nathan Carlson of Center of Effort, Christian Roguenaut of Baileyana, Brian Babcock of Babcock; Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Marc Gold of Windward.
My review of the wines in order of presentation:
2015 TOLOSA WINERY “PRIMERA” EDNA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- red/ pink color; the nose offered a huge hit of spicy, toasty red cherry and a bit of heat; the taste had some roasted red berry fruit; it was highly extracted and therefore very intense and concentrated, big, bold and robust almost too much so for me; perhaps time will allow for some mellowness.
2013 LUCIA GARY`S VINEYARD SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS PINOT NOIR- 15% whole clusters; dark red color; very pleasant and cheery aromatics; spicy maraschino cherry is most evident and there is some wild red berry fruit as well; it has good acidity and along with the tannic structure it should age gracefully; elegant and nicely balanced; one of my top 5 of the 9.
2013 LONGORIA WINES FE CIEGA VINEYARD SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- from a special estate 8 acre vineyard planted by Rick in 1998, this showed quite well; having to legally change the name from Blind Faith [after the rock group] to the Spanish version, Fe Ciega, Rick has made some great wines over many years from this source which includes clones from Pommard, Mt. Eden and Dijon 115 and 667; moderate red purple color; the nose and taste had some clove, spice, talc and sassafras to accent the wild cherry berry fruit served up in a medium to full body.
2013 LAETITIA VINEYARD & WINERY RESERVE du DOMAINE PINOT NOIR- deep bright red color; a mild nose of spice, white pepper and earth laden red fruit with raspberry and cherry most prominent; the taste profile was somewhat mild and light as well and had a hint of a burnt smoky character; this is Pinot Noir Light or a mislabeled rose.
2014 CENTRAL of EFFORT EDNA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- the color was reddish purple; I got some toasty, vanilla laced red cherry in the nose and in the taste comes a serious toasty, oaky influenced wild cherry; it finished with more of the same.
2014 BAILEYANA WINERY FIRE PEAK EDNA VALLEY PINOT NOIR- from select blocks from the estate vineyard; reddish pink color; the nose had very inviting spicy bright cherry and the taste kept up the pace along with a bit of black cherry; it had a feel good smooth texture, was very balanced and an elegance that highlighted the experience; my fav to this point.
2014 BABCOCK OCEAN GHOST ESTATE GROWN SANTA RITA HILLS PINOT NOIR- deep red color; aromatics of vanilla, forest floor [as suggested by Brian and then recognized to give it a name] and spicy bright red fruit with a nice fruity taste profile finishing a bit tart; it had decent mouthfeel and was overall a good effort which I suspect needs some time to develop.
2013 AU BON CLIMAT AUBAINE VINEYARD SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY PINOT NOIR- purple reddish color; incredible aromatics that suggested class and elegance which was substantiated in spades; there`s clove and allspice to accent the fresh red cherry notes that just danced over the palate; it was medium bodied and had a soft and easy mouthfeel and a long sustained finish to complete the deal; with 1 wine to go, this is my fav so far.
2010 WINDWARD VINEYARD ‘MOMOPOLE” PASO ROBLES PINOT NOIR- from a producer who has proven that an appellation known for more warm climate wines can hang with the big boys, Marc has achieved some acceptances from his relatively cool microclimate vineyard which the name “windward” suggests; this wine had a very different nose than the other 8 giving off some mint chocolate, spicy wild strawberry; the taste had more tame strawberry and red cherry/ berry notes; it felt good and held on for a grand climax; quite good and one of my favs.
This symposium was a one of a kind, educational and informative event that brought together many winemakers who verbalized the camaraderie and mutual respect they shared for one another. It featured many representations of Pinot Noir fruit and winemaking styles as produced within the AVAs of the Central Coast.
One conclusion from all of this is that there is something for everybody here.
For me on this day, ABC was the finest of what my palate prefers and desires. Lucia, Woodward, Longoria and Baileyana also pleased more than the others which were all fine wines.
As we all know, life is about choices and in this case, it was wonderful to explore so many choices.