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Beautiful clear ruddy glow with a wide garnet rim. Zangy, sexy, spicy, salty-licorice-infused amaretto blackberry with red bell pepper bringing a fresh-cut introduction to saline & straw barnyard funk ever-so-slightly visible behind fruit so powerful you KNOW it is California but refined and restrained as it drops little soft plums to the ground, allowing earth to swallow them up almost unnoticed. It fattens considerably late-breathe–a disappointing direction–but hey, whaddya gonna do??? It’s CALIFORNIA. STILL SO MUCH going on in the nose, from the fig and latex through the sweet cream and roasted tomato, to the sharp mineralific wet stone that dumps you right back down onto the chubby fruit and slight burn–full circle.

In the mouth, a smoooooooth entry and middle disappoints for the second time–glycerin-ey and flaccid–the dark concentrated fruit only apparent near the finish, where everything suddenly explodes into the myriadic cornucopia of issues we all cherish in Pinot Noir–WITH a chubby tinge. Now-mouthfilling and extravagant, match-head comes alive on polished steel and gel-coat. More vegetal pepper, but refined into a more vanilla-spice scenario, and white-pepper clanging for attention as the applesauce and blackberry slowly give way to a bit of tannin and considerable heat.

This is the second time I’ve had these wines, and this is easily the oldest of the two sessions. These are highly-sought-after specimens in the area and beyond, and the complexity they exude *almost* over-rides the confusion they show. A most interesting wine, one you don’t take simply and can’t quite over-rule for a few rough edges. Yes, it is a little awkward and disjointed, and sometimes comes off as a porn-show, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it unbalanced. It WORKS for what it is, and that is a big fat chubby monster with marginal pinot-redeeming characteristics. I also think it FEELS higher alcohol than it actually IS. It feels 14-8, but knowing the area and site, am guessing 14-oh. Even now, the 45-minute nose is giving off melted Crayola and Dr. Pepper, and the mouth is crankin ripe pepper and donut-shop.

If you’re into the high-end bling-bros of Santa Barbara County and even Russian River Valley, this is the wine for you. You will LOVE it. If you’re into Burg, Oregon, Sonoma Coast and cool-climate, you will hate it.

2014 MAIL ROAD WINES Pinot Noir Mt.Carmel Santa Rita Hills Santa Ynez Valley California 14.1

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