Friday, April 23, 2010

2007 Martinelli Pinot Noir, Blue Slide Ridge Vineyard

This wine would be in the final running for picking my desert island wine. I think all of Martinelli's pinots are delicious, but in my book this one tops them all. The grapes come from one of this producer's "true" Sonoma Coast vineyards, located two or three ridge lines in from the Pacific Ocean near the old coastal town of Fort Ross. This vineyard, just above the marine/fog layer, thrives on a diet of warm, sunny days and very cold nights. This last fall, Julianna Martinelli took my wife and I out into these mountains (SUV country indeed) to let me have a look at this magical area.
This unique terroir results in a wine that takes California pinot to new levels of excellence. It is lush but not ponderous, ripe but not thick, deep but not dumb. The intense aromas combine sweet, ripe cherries with an engaging wet earth note. The complex flavors are all about low yields of ripe fruit with careful use of oak in the cellar.
It will be interesting to see how this relatively new viticultural area develops and it certainly deserves its own separate AVA. To throw these special vineyards into the ludicrously immense "Sonoma Coast" AVA is a prime example of why the AVA system needs serious overhaul.
This particular wine is closely allocated by the winery and the cost is $95. There are very few wines for which I would pay $95 but this is one of them. Both Parker and Tanzer gave this wine 94 points.

2007 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Cotes Catalanes, "Les Bacs"

This wine is another example of the superb wines that have been surfacing in the wine regions of southern France which, until recently, have produced mostly forgettable wines. To top it off, 2007 is probably the best vintage in this region in the last 10 years. This wine is a vin de pay from the Cotes Catalanes. 20 years ago, this lack of any pedigree would have relegated it to "plonk" status, but not so today. It is carefully crafted from 75% grenache and 25% carignan, all from old vines.
The color is inky purple-black. Ripe raspberry and fig aromas jump from the glass. The wines' structure and extract level tells you this is serious stuff. Full but ripe tannins and a long finish makes this wine easy to drink now with hearty foods, but it also will amply reward five or more years in your cellar.
I bought this wine from the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA (1-800-76-WINEX). The $25 price tag seems very fair to me, given the superb quality. Parker gave it 93 points and I can't argue with that number. There is also a similar wine from this producer called "Orchis" with identical price, grape percentages and Parker rating. You can't go wrong with either one.