Dark garnet, thinning appropriately to the rim. Thick funk on the nose, roiled with barnyard and rich, dusty tertiary. Candied black cherry and the sharp twang of aged American Pinot nuttiness advances steadily outward. Intense green vegetal–bell pepper and compost-bin–play on the graphite and queso, causing a situation in the mind where you KNOW what this wine was like on release, and have those things worked against it, and how enjoyable are we going to quantify it as at this juncture? It is fairly beautiful to smell, but with asterisks. I PROMISE you this was a big, dark, concentrated-fruity thing upon presentation–and I am guessing the ABV at 14-5–probably ridiculously yummy and garnering much praise from the crowd who look for such things in Pinot Noir. But now we have a wine burdened by these early aspects.
Tasting it confirms most suspicions: flaccidly concentrated, terribly one-dimensional, the heat over-taking the still-round fruit and the barnyard nowhere to be found. Or much of anything else interesting. The sweet delirium of the distilled blackberry and prune-plum present a raisin-vodka feel, and the finish fades to burning nothingness. There’s a considerable amount of tannin hiding under the heat, but where one leaves off and the other starts is vague. Black, grainy bitterness rules the center, where the obvious maceration has metastasized into powdery chunks of dull lavished onto sweet nothingness.
A wine I can easily see most wine-people calling beautiful and amazing and–opened in a lively round with dinner–I can kinda see the appeal. But there’s a sweet-savory situation going on here impossible to rationalize, not to mention a shallow chubbiness abraded by alcohol and the inability to age. These wines are designed to drink young and woo the tasting-room crowd with the heroin of berry and bruise. But they’re not real pinots. It’s just sexy California strutting.
2011 TRIONE ‘River Road Ranch’ Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Sonoma 14.5