Friday, September 21, 2012

NYTimes Wine Critic Eric Asimov Visits Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Eric Asimov
It's nice to see Eric Asimov tasting his way through our newly crowned King-(or is it Queen, as Oregon might be the King)-of-the-Pinot regions, as he writes about in his recent New York Times article Pinot Hunting in the Anderson Valley and the list of wines entitled "A California Shangri-La for Pinot Noir." Nice title.

Alas, though, our intrepid wine critic and his two tasting buddies tasted only 20 wines from the region (he admits this was a minus) and only those available at retail. The tasting question to be answered, in part, was whether or not there was a discernible style of Anderson Pinot. Asimov's answer is no; there is a wide variety of styles.

I don't know of any of the vineyards in the list that are certified organic, but at least his article makes no pretension of having done the definitive tasting.

High on his list was Radio Coteau, which sources some of its wines from organic growers (although I don't know if this specific wine, the Savoy Vineyard, was from one - I seem to remember they might be - but again - would have to call Radio Coteau). Anthill Farms rated #1 in quality and value. I've heard that some of their vineyards are organic but I can't say, as I've never heard back from them in any emails.

I would have liked to have seen Asimov's tasting results for these organically grown beauties: Handley's estate Pinot Noir, Lutea's Anderson Valley releases, Radio Coteau's, and others.

At any rate, it's nice to see Anderson Valley getting this kind of focused attention.

In contrast to Asimov's viva la difference approach to an Anderson Valley style, the Chronicle's Jon Bonne reviews a totally different group of bottles and finds, as his headline says, "Identity issues in Anderson Valley," saying "It has been tough to get my head around Anderson Valley."

But luckily for us, Bonne's included Charlie Barra's Girasole Pinot Noir ($16) in his lineup (despite the fact that I think it is grown in hot, inland Ukiah and not in Anderson Valley but what the hey - it's all Mendocino County, I guess), giving it high marks.

"Subtle, strawberry-tinged...rises above most Pinot Noir at this price and shows a truth to itself, with its floral and birch-bark aspects," Bonne wrote. "Jason Welch has found a way to let Pinot from a relatively warm spot speak with class and without pretense."

Well said, and, of course, it's one of the wines in my forthcoming app. (And has been since Day 1). Stay tuned!

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