Pinot Noir: love it or don't... there really doesn't seem to be any in between.
Myself, I love the damned grape. It was one of my first true joys in wine; tasting a great Pinot Noir. Many years later, I still derive the same pleasure - accentuated only be a deeper appreciation for what tremendous work goes into those delightful results.
Sometimes there are exceptions even to that rule, and Shea Wine Cellars ( www.SheaWineCellars.com )just might be it! Situated in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, Dick Shea started planting grapes on his land in the later 1980's. 95% Pinot Noir, the rest is Chardonnay (which I haven't tried yet), Dick has a truly impressive array of sub-plots and clones.
The clone I tried is Pommard Clone, which was brought to America in the 1940's & (In My Humble Opinion) is not widely used at present. The winemakers who do use it however, are producing world-class results.
2002Pommard Clone Pinot Noir
$unknown - best guess about $100-$120 Canadian for this vintage if you bought it today
- deep ruby centre with established brickish rim, slight sedimentation
- full- to moderate++ intense bouquet; all manner of cherries, black currant, leather, slight tobacco of mild cigars, slight heat from the alcohol, finish with a sweetness reminiscent of blueberries
- moderate acids, moderate tannins, palate equals the nose in all respects
- moderate body... almost a touch more then I expect from Pinot Noir but in a wonderful way
- excellent structure and balance, there is a strong acidic presence right now all the way through the palate, but the fruit is still allowed to show through
What a wonderful treat, really. My father gave me his last bottle of the '02 & I think it drinks delightfully now, and most likely for quite a few years given the strength of those smooth tannins. We served this with a prime rib roast that I cooked on a bed of leeks and fresh thyme, steamed new potatoes, and a spinach salad I finished with crimini mushrooms roast with white truffle oil, sweet onions and charred bell peppers. The truffle oil really brought out some lovely notes in the wine - but so did the leeks!
(Shea Wine Cellars in Winter)