How Many Have You Had?

In no particular order:

2011 LAZARRE WINES Pinot Noir Central Coast California 14.5 Discovered this orphan in a bad, un-air-conditioned liquor store in a part of town not frequented by serious wine-shoppers. “$27.99” proclaimed the tattered pricetag, and WHO could resist a 10YO offering with bad provenance from one of the most talented and prolific winemakers on the central coast??? Not I! Ridiculously un-aged. Dark ruby-garnet running a gorgeous ruddy maroon toward the edge. Rich and jam-packed with ripe fruit in the nose, fresh and vibrant, no signs of any toasty/rubbery nuances typically expected in inexpensive Pinots at a decade under cork. Likewise in the mouth: rich and full-bore nonstop black cherry and tender plum, barely any tertiary to speak of–just a thick, luscious wine packed with mushroom and clean barnyard and marvelously dank fruit. I would never guess a 2011.

2018 CLAIBORNE & CHURCHILL Pinot Noir Edna Valley Central Coast California 13.5 This little screw-top was pretty much the only thing palatable off the list of a local restaurant un-frequented by people picky about their dinner wine-choices. Bright, translucent Guards Red with faint amber at the rim. A simple sort of plump berry greets the nose, charming and bright–the slight rasp of wooden match and peat–cheery round fruit designed to please, not intimidate, and definitely NOT spark the curiosity of serious pinot-people. Or trigger their ire, either–to be fair. There’s nothing *bad* about this wine, and for the price, I suppose it packs in a considerable amount of quality. Faint diesel in the background polishes the berry toward earthiness, but that’s about the extent of any Pinot-isms. It’s really just a nice, easy red wine.

2012 QUPÉ WINE CELLARS Syrah Hillside Bien Nacido SMV California 13.5 Feeling a bit chubby and raisin-y in the nose, although not a trace of brick in the glass. Effusive bell pepper and peppery vegetal alongside cherry-pit ruminations on thick blackberry and briary earth. SOOOO dense and concentrated on the palate. Abrasive and ethereal, the fruit sharpened with pangs of acid and moldy blood-orange peel and chalky tannin and the whole package DOES NOT create a gobbstopping wall of stupendous impenetrable concentration as 99% of you who have never experienced Qupé are assuming–because this is what you have been taught by Paso Robles and Ballard Canyon as de rigueur in a fine Syrah. No! this wine is thin. Transparent. Light. Clairvoyant, easily-digestible, elegant and subtle. No clanging bells and whistles here: Hillside doesn’t woo you like that. It does it the RIGHT way. With funk and finesse.

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