Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Restorative Power of Pinot

It was a tough weekend and early week. An I can't-believe-this-is-happening-to-me injury and a trip to the emergency room put quite the damper on winetasting activities, not to mention our anniversary. But some wines I ordered from a wine broker out west arrived recently, and, once again able to imbibe, I am now feeling restored.

I was a little nervous about trusting good wines to any transportation service, but it's been cool around here lately and the wines appear to have arrived in perfect condition. In fact, I'm happy to report the Copeland Creek Vineyards '02 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is absolutely fabulous.

The first thing I noticed about this wine in the glass was its lovely soft red hue. So many wines today are so fully extracted as to give them an inky color, something many American consumers have come to expect. Since wines need only be composed of 75 percent of the varietal specified on the label, many winemakers blend to achieve a richer color. Yes, even pinot noir makers use syrah, for example, to add color.

In looks, this wine reminded me more of a $25 Burgundy than a California pinot. But if this concerned me at a glance, the nose blew those uncertainties out of the water. I was enraptured by an intoxicating perfume of raspberies, rose petals, cinnamon and a hint of oak. Truly a delicious wine.

So, why did I flinch for a second or two at the color? I suddenly realized how easy it is to get seduced by a particular style of winemaking, what many think of as the Parker style. Nothing wrong with such wines, but we can all benefit from the occasional reminder that there's more than one path to quality and greatness.

I'm tempted to say that this wonderfully aromatic pinot is definitely a pure varietal expression of the grape, but I don't actually know that Copeland Creek is unblended. I'd be surprised if it was blended. Especially considering winemaker Don Baumhefner's insistence on the importance of traditional winemaking methods, low yields and terroir in his wines.

So, my spirits were lifted in so many ways by this wine. Not only am I back in the winetasting game, I'm enjoying a taste of the Sonoma Coast not easily found around here. At $30 a bottle, the Copeland Creek is not a cheapie, but no more than I'd expect to pay for a small-production, high-quality pinot. Small price to pay for restoration, indeed.


Blogger Trish said...

Glad your spirits are up. Speedy recovery (bolstered by lots of wine).

12:46 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Thanks much.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Don Baumhefner said...

Dear jd,
I am so glad that my wine, the Copeland Creek Pinot Noir helped in your restoration. I also whole-heartedly agree with your distaste for high alcohol wines. We are still in the minority, but the others will soon come around.
By the way, I am no longer at Copeland Creek. I am now the winemaker for another Petaluma Gap wihnery, Ridgeway.
Thanks again, Don Baumhefner

2:05 PM  
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