Wine: Estancia Pinot Noir 2004
Santa Lucia Highlands Stonewall Vineyards
Estancia Winery, based in Monterey County, California, is known to cheapskates like me as a producer of solid, reliable wines in the $10-15 range. I’ve been particularly impressed with their “entry level” Pinot Noir (Pinnacles Ranches), which stands out as a keeper among the sea of crappy under-$20 Pinots made by myriad other producers. The recent excitement over Pinot Noir, and in turn its overproduction, has resulted in too many disappointing bottles, making me wary of choosing one outside of Burgundy and/or under forty bucks. Luckily, Estancia has a staked interest in their reputation, and is more interested in bottling quality wine than rushing the grape de rigeur to market.
One of their quality bottlings is their “Stonewall” Pinot Noir, made from grapes grown in their Stonewall Vineyard of Santa Lucia Highlands. Santa Lucia Highlands earned an AVA (designation as an “official” or unique wine growing region) in 1991, and has recently emerged as one of the most exciting American regions for Pinot Noir. It would take too much room to explain why the area has become so important as a winegrowing region, so you’ll have to trust me on this: if you see Santa Lucia Highlands on a Pinot Noir label, chances are good that the wine inside will be good.
The “Stonewall” Pinot Noir has a ripe, deep, complex aroma of red and black raspberry, black cherry, a good dose of spice and hint of earth. On the palate you get yummy, ripe strawberry and red raspberry fruit upfront, which mellows and balances nicely on the palate with mild acidity and mild tannins. Finish is subtle, but long and pleasing. Very little alcohol is apparent, which is somewhat surprising considering the upfront ripeness. Vanilla spice melds with mild hints of earth, green unripe fruits, and sweet tobacco. Texture is smooth. A very nice wine by itself, it has just enough to stand up to milder dishes. Try it with fish and mildly seasoned vegetarian and poultry dishes. One of the better bottles of under-$30 Pinot Noir.
a-8 t-8 b-8 fc-8 v-8 ~ 90 Points
Estancia Winery Website
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