Blind tasting four Pinot <$40

I had never done a blind tasting before, so this was quite an eye-opening experience for me. Everyone has their biases, and I’m sure I would have given more credit to some and less to others if I had known what I was drinking.

High level takeaways for me are: 1) Burgundy can be very disappointing 2) I need to rethink my disdain for Cali Pinot, and 3) the power of suggestion is strong

“Nose is quite earthy in the mushroom/underbrush sense. Can get cherry deep down underneath. Palate is more on the savory side initially but then some very bright tart strawberries and cherries show. The acid is bright but not overpowering. Finish is underripe strawberries. Fine tannins. Guessing this is Burgundy but not a great example. 88/100” (88 pts.)

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“Deeper ruby. Touch of lightening at the rim but certainly a young wine. Nose is deep cherries and strawberry jam. Not jammy, but strawberry jam aromas. Maybe a hint of rocky/minerals? Palate medium body, dark cherries, a touch of herby/woody tannins. Definitely some stem inclusion. Acid is a little bit protuberant. Finish is oak-heavy in terms of Pinot with some good acid. Tannins not obtrusive and present if you look for them. Pretty well made wine but not my preferred flavor profile. This is definitely California pinot. 89 docked a point for the acid being a little too much.” (89 pts.)

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"True garnet color. More fading at the rim towards the center. Nose was initially underbrush but also some good cherries/red fruit. Palate was austere. Think underripe strawberries but a bit of acid as well. Some woody/stemmy shows late in the palate. Finish is more in the rock/mineral side. Woody herb stem. Tannins present though a touch drying. Maybe a hint of oak but not overpowering at all. 89/100 " (89 pts.)

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  • 2016 La Crema Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (11/13/2021)
    Tasted blind. Note copied below. As a self-proclaimed Cali Pinot hater, I was convinced this was Oregon and had to eat significant amounts of crow.

“Slightly darker garnet, young wine based on the amount of fading at the rim. Nose is rich and deep dark cherries with a touch of underbrush/mossy/forest floor. It’s not overwhelming and in fact it’s quite balanced, but the fruit is rich and deep. Definitely some oak here, just by nose. Palate is bright acid, dark fruit. Rich strawberry and cherry. Rocky minerality. Finish is mostly acid and wet rocks, think river rocks. Would’ve given 91 but acid is a touch out of balance so 90/100. This will age over for a few years. This is has to be Oregon.” (90 pts.)

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Interesting. I was able to pick out all the CA vs. OR/Willamette Valley Pinots blind at an IPNC tasting a few years ago based solely on perceived acidity levels…. (That said, the CA examples were not “extreme” coastal examples.) We’ve had a string of warmer vintages from 2012 to 2018 (but that generally applies to both regions) and I was the only one at our table who got 100%. I feel the differences are there, but perhaps not apparent to everyone? I really locked in to this parameter with side-by-sides, ranked them all, then continued with full tasting notes. It was a theory I had on how best to approach the challenge and it worked (that time : )

David, interesting idea to discern from acidity. I got tricked by the depth and character of the fruit. I can’t say I’ve had “extreme” coastal Pinot, but after this I am more willing to try.

That being said, I’m glad to hear an Oregon winemaker can pick out the Oregon wines :wink: