Just because I had a wedding to attend in the evening didn't mean that I couldn't make it to the early afternoon tasting, particularly because the grape of the week was Pinot Noir. A lot of these wines were delicate, and would probably come through with stronger flavors over the course of a full glass or two. Most of the wines poured on this day were fantastic. As usual, everything was tasted blind and then matched up to the labels afterwards.
Wine 1: 2003 Laetitia Pinot Noir Estate. Arroyo Grande Valley, California. A slightly harsh nose, but with a strong start and mild finish. Didn't pick up any outstanding flavors, but it's a solid wine. $26.
Wine 2: 2003 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir. Willamette Valley, Oregon. Light cherry flavors, very mild and mellow. Great example of Oregon Pinot Noir, just wish the region wasn't so pricy. $33.
Wine 3: 2003 Louis Latour Marsannay. Burgundy, France. I got flavors and aromas of stewed fruit and dried cranberries. Good balance with a dry finish. $23.
Wine 4: 2002 Block 13 Pinot Noir. Sonoma, California. Amazing black cherry flavors with firm tannins. $20.
Wine 5: 2002 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir. Carneros, California. This was another powerful one, with full flavor and reminiscent of Shiraz at moments. $26
Wine 6: 2003 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir. Marlborough, New Zealand. I think this is the first NZ Pinot Noir I've ever tried. Mild cherry, very light, maybe too thin. $20.
Wine 7: 2003 Ninth Island Pinot Noir. Tasmania, Australia. Another first, in this case the first wine of any type that I've tried from Tasmania. It's a small growing region, and not a lot gets exported to the US. By far my favorite of the tasting. Great balance of dark fruit with a hint of pepper, and firm tannins on the long finish. A big, fruit forward wine as opposed to some of the thinner selections of the day. $18.
Wine 8: 2002 Gérard Bertrand Vin de Pays d'Oc. Languedoc, France. Thin with just a small bite on the finish. Not bad, but I was wanting more fruit flavor. $17.
Wine 9: 2002 Bourgogne Roncevie Domaine Arlaud. Burgundy, France. Raisins and dried cranberries. Sounds odd, but tasted great. Well rounded with a soft edge from start to finish. $23.
Wine 10: 2003 Mirassou Pinot Noir. Monterey, California. I think this is the third or fourth time I've had this wine, and it's tasted different on each occasion. There's a touch of stewed fruit with a little spice on the finish. Easily drinkable and a good bargain. $10.
Wine 11: 2002 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Noir. Trentino, Italy. Another Italian wine from the upper northeast near Austria. Seems like we've had a lot of those recently. I also realized this was probably an oddball, as it was the only wine in a Bordeaux-style bottle as opposed to the Burgundy-style you see with most Pinot Noirs. As for the wine? I found it watery with no prominent flavors or aromas. Not bad, but just too light for my tastes. $20.