Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2004 La Rochelle Pinot Noir

Type- Red
Producer- La Rochelle
Variety- Pinot Noir
Country- USA
Region- California
SubRegion- Central Coast
Appellation- Monterey
From WineQ
Approx. $20

This Big Wooden Guy would not leave me alone until I promised to add more of this to my queue at WineQ.

Before I even put my nose near the glass, let me thank the wonderful people at WineQ. I tried this once before, as you may recall. It gave the Webkinz a chance to make an appearance, but the bottle was flawed. The next thing I knew, I was getting email assurances another bottle was on its way. If you have not checked out WineQ yet, do yourself a favor and head over there soon.

The nose is nice. It opens with a little earthiness, truffles and black dirt. It is very light, but definitely there. Red fruit comes next, light fresh strawberries, wild cherries and pomegranate. There is also a hint, a tiny hint, of red licorice at the very edges of the glass.

The palate is rich, filed with soft full-bodied red fruit, black cherries, very ripe strawberries, followed by raspberry. The 100% new French oak starts to show on the mid-palate as vanilla first makes a gentle appearance then grows, eventually taking the lead, going from red fruit with a little vanilla to a little red fruit on vanilla ice cream.

Mouth feel is silky smooth. The finish is long.

This is good, but just on the edge of over-oaked. Too much wood is the trend in Cali pinots lately, and in my personal opinion does injustice to the fruit. This one is not quite there, not quite too much, on Night One. Sometimes, though, they can really fall apart, devolve into over-sweetened oak juice on Night Two. Will this one? Or will it dance delicately along the edge, balancing fruit and wood, while adding depth overnight? Stay tuned, and we will find out together.

Night Two

The nose is far more subtle on Night Two, less fruity, far more floral. Truffles are still there, but very light, very light indeed. Birch beer and cream, strawberries, and then violets all make up the nose.

The palate is absolutely silky smooth, even creamy. Fruits are red and soft, pomegranate, very ripe strawberries, cherries bought at a roadside fruit stand in Michigan in the summer time. More impressive, though, are the florals that appear on the mid-palate and grow, first joining the fruit then eclipsing it, in the classic Pinot Arc. They are violets and roses, and definitely worth the second night wait.

Give this wine some time in your cellar. If you can't wait, and I can't blame you, decant it for several hours, then treat yourself to a Burgundy doppleganger from the Central Coast of California.

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