Thu 16 Sep 2010
I’m doing a three-part series about California pinot noir, with the first entry posted on August 29. I’ll get to the next part, well, I don’t know exactly; these are long and complicated efforts, but soon, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
Meanwhile, here’s a review of a pinot noir that I tasted over the past two days and thought was really terrific, actually an exemplar of what Monterey County pinot should be. This is the Talbott Logan Pinot Noir 2008, Santa Lucia Highlands. “Logan” is Talbott’s designation for less expensive wines that do not carry a vineyard designation, though the grapes for this wine derive from the winery’s well-known Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. The Talbott name is familiar from Robert Talbott Inc., the company that has manufactured classically proportioned men’s clothing since 1950. Robb Talbott, who planted the winery’s Diamond T Vineyard in Carmel in 1982 and acquired Sleepy Hollow in 1994, owns the winery and is chairman of the board of the clothing company that his parents founded. The winery makes only chardonnay and pinot noir.
I used the word “lovely” so many times in my notes on the Talbott Logan Pinot Noir 2008 that I started to feel like a songwriter of the 1930s. The color is a lovely medium ruby with a darker, more intense core. The (lovely) bouquet, pure and radiant, offers plums, red currants and a bit of mulberry with hints of sassafras and cloves and a slight undertone of briers and brambles. This is smooth as silk, sleek as satin, subtle and supple, almost edgeless in its impeccable balance. Black cherry and red currant flavors open to elements of smoke, lavender and sandalwood, with further dimensions of foresty earthiness and slate-like minerality, though these qualities are almost subliminal. The wine aged 11 months in French oak but you recognize that fact only by a slight increase of woody spice and dryness of texture on the finish. Oddly, the label tells us that the alcohol content is 15.1 percent, though the tech sheet on the winery’s website says 14.4 percent; in any case, there’s certainly nothing “hot” and overwrought about this wine. Winemaker was Dan Karlsen, who started his career at Dry Creek Vineyard and went on to Dehlinger and Domaine Carneros and was winemaker and general manager at Chalone from 1998 to 2007.
Just freakin’ lovely. Drink now through 2012 or ’13. Excellent. I paid $29; you see prices around the country as low as $21.50.