I have been seeking out the new California pinot producers to try to gain a better understanding of the varietal expression in the state. Siduri has now come to the LCBO and a great thing it is based on the labels reputation. (But man is the label ugly in my opinion) I just had the SIDURI PINOT NOIR 2008 (Russian River Valley). I also bought the 2007 Keefer Ranch. What I want to know is this: the 2008 RRV version was simply laden with an underlying brown sugar note and I hate it. Will the Keefer Ranch be substantively different regarding this flavour component? I am not really interested in any qualitative difference as clearly the wines are well made. Its just that I hate this brown sugar / cherry cola quality I am finding in so many of the Cali pinots. At $65, I am going to return the Keefer if I can expect this component. The RRV was $40 so I started with it. Any help would be appreciated.
I think I know what you are talking about and its a quality in many high-ripeness styled Pinots. For me it can almost have a molasis or cola quality.
Cola has been a signature of RRV pinot since it was first produced here. I don’t think you can shake it no matter where you go in the valley albeit you will find it in different concentration. The Green Valley, a sub-appellation of the RRV and where Keefer Ranch is located, would be considered a cooler area in the valley and would have less cola quality. It will also have more green herb and tart red fruits, as a generalization.
Thanks for the info and I think Berry has got it. My brown sugar might be his molasses but, that is a fine hair to me. I wondered if it were some interaction between the oak treatment and the “ripeness.” I was going to post a note on this wine but, I wouldn’t have much good to say so I thought better of it. I am going to wait another couple of days but, for an extra $14 I can get another 05 Jadot Clos des Urules and that is looking mighty attractive … I think I just don’t get Cali Pinot beyond a select few. Just like this wine, too many of them share more sangiovese flavour notes to me then they do traditional pinot. I don’t want to give up until I have surveyed a bunch more producers but, they are just so damn hard to come by up here. I found the alcohol obtrusive as well even though it was only 14.1% and an honest 14.1% (the LCBO checks all wines and the over label confirmed the 14.1 % on the original label and that is very rare for the Cali wines we get here. Most are under-reported on the label … at least as far as the LCBO lab is concerned.) Hats off to Siduri not taking liberties with the +/- allowance.
I really need to attend Pinot Days!!!
I think ripeness is part of it but like Steve said it is more indicative of RRV for me than other areas. It seems to align with the Cola character from there when made bigger.
I wondered if it were some interaction between the oak treatment and the “ripeness.”
I think its a combo of heavy ripeness/extraction and certain types of oak. Too many burg producers get this too. I hate it. Its the main thing that keeps me from buying more Cali Pinot.
I think the classic RRV valley cola terroir component is a bit different than what we are talking about here. The RRV cola is more subtle and (for me) more of a component on the nose than the palate. By contrast the maple/brown sugar/molases thing is more a palate quality. I don’t get that from producers like Swan or Dehlinger at all for example and they eptimize RRV for me.
I guess what I had meant that this cola flavor seems to ‘amp up’ to a brown sugar type quality sometimes when is gets big and ripe. The way I taste them in wine they could be close to each other.
Berry/Cris et al. – Thanks for the info. That is what this board is all about. On the other board I would be defending myself against the “You Just Hate Cali Wines Period” crowd.
I have experience with Dehlinger and I get the cola component in their expression in recent years as well. I have had some older Dehlinger late 80s and early 90s and I don’t recall this note at all. I will seek out some Joseph Swan. Thanks.
Thanks for tasting the wine - sorry it wasn’t what you are looking for. IMHO, the wine you tasted possesses more of that quality than the other two wines the LCBO brought in to the market (the 07 Keefer and the 07 SLH). Some of that is the vintage (2008 was a challenging vintage in much of CA - with frost being a major issue in the RRV especially. To get even ripeness we had to pick some vineyards quite ripe.) With our appellation wines especially, it is a case where we blended and seperated out the single vineyard wines for structure. The remaining Appellation Pinot Noir are bigger and softer than the single vineyards…in the case of the 08 RRV that is the brown sugar note you are picking up. – One thing that is, IMO, incorrect about some of the assumptions is that it is related to oak. Not that much new oak on this wine and our toast levels are never “heavy” (as defined by the cooperage house).
The 2007 Keefer certainly has more structure and backbone and is less obviously ripe. My guess is that it would fit your palate better than the RRV. Having said that, Keefer (and the SLH which you haven’t tried and which doesn’t have that character, I don’t believe) are all fairly ripe CA Pinots. Keefer and Pisoni, in particular, are vineyards that perform better when riper, IMHO. Other vineyards that we deal with, in normal years (non-frost, non-smoke) definitely have differing characters. – If it is okay with you, as the LCBO picks up other wines, I will let you know what they have and give you my opinion on whether or not they will better fit your palate.
Thanks for not chastising me!
I have slept on the question, briefly, and based on your rec I will try the SLH next – which I didn’t buy – and go from there. Hell, my oldest kid isn’t college material anyway … that’s a joke … though the good stuff in this passion is expensive, he’s only 8 and I shouldn’t give up on him till he’s at least 10.
I would love to hear your opinion on the wines that the Monopole purchases for their prisoners … er, I mean, customers. It is a most gracious offer. Thank you. You wine makers are alright … hey, if I don’t like your the SLH selection, you’re not going to sue me or have the CIA descend on my house with black helicopters or anything, right.
CIA? Nah, I got no pull. Be more worried about you sending the Squamish Five down this way if the wine doesn’t fit your taste (or the label as well).
Squamish Five … I had to look that up! Thats a left coast thing! I appreciate your non-violent assurances though … I won’t worry about disappearing halfway across the state of NY on our next trip to Midtown now. What recent vintages do you think had the least of the brown sugar characteristic?
2007, 2005, 2001, 1999 all had less of that character that you are describing. And I don’t think the wines from other regions show that same character, even when plenty ripe, in the same way that RRV Pinots do. – I will let you know what the LCBO next wants to order.
And, yes, the Squamish Five were left coasters, but operated in the fine provence of Ontario for awhile - and are, oddly enough, all out of jail now with at least one member living in Kingston.
FWIW, I’ve yet to find a Siduri/Novy red that I liked…across the board, they have a funny pruned character to my (and my girlfriend’s) tongue that I’ll bet you could call “brown sugar”. And since the people I drink with seem to like Siduri, I’ve tasted a bunch of them. I keep getting poured the wines and just leavin’ 'em in the glass. Even a Novy viognier didn’t move me.
I recognize a whole bunch of other folks like the wines, so I just chalk it up to my personal taste.
You point is well taken.
I think its personal taste to be sure but, obviously no one can argue the high quality of the winemaking. I just like/want to seek out the other possibilities and support these passionate artists where my palate will allow me. I think philisophically it may end up more a question of should the varietal necessarily transmit its historic traits regardless of where it is grown. As we debate this, we will alll be drinking the wines which excite our palate while never coming to resolution but, the discussion will be interesting and already has been.
My question is always - “how far back in history do you want to go?” and “what period do you want to stop in?”
I personally want to go back to when the Burgundians were topping up with Syrah from North Africa and I want to stop now … no now …
I know I have read you on this topic before but, I forget so elucidate if you will be so kind and, once done, I will go buy the SLH bottling, sure to be poorly made and in need of some North African Syrah (why can’t all you winemakers learn to blend properly like real winemakers).
BTW, Kudos again for accurately stating your ABV. It is really a thing that is becoming far too rare on the stuff the LCBO is testing from all over the globe.