Current Tasting Notes on Older Wines
"How is it Tasting" notes. As many of you know, Pinot Noir goes through many changes throughout it's bottle life. First is the fruity stage. This may be up to the first four or five years in bottle. This is highlighted by young, vibrant fruit in a sound (but perhaps not real complex) medium. Next is the closed down or dumb stage. The wine is going through a transformation and can seem to be "just not home". The wine becomes very tight and doesn't show well. BE PATIENT. Just ignore it for a few years because it is turning into stage three....The REALLY GOOD stage. The fruit mixes with bottle age to give the wine the multiple dimensions that we all desire. It will stay in this stage for many years...just getting more interesting. The last stage is Death. All wines die sooner or later. You can call it over the hill or whatever. This stage is hit when no amount of decanter time will make the wine smell better. So...here is where my wines are stage wise. Bare in mind that all cellars are slightly different.
My notes were posted March 5, 2007.
Notes from Friends
Last night a friend was doing an "Old Pinot" tasting from wines she had bought long ago or on auction.... We tried the wine the wines in flights of three starting with the oldest. The first flight was your 86 Hitching Post, an 89 Au Bon Climat, and 91 Hitching Post.... The 86 was the star of that three. The 91 was definitely over the hill but the 86 was great. It was hard to believe it was 30 years old. It still had good acid and PN flavors. The nose was out standing with roses and fruit. It is nice to see a wine stand up so well. (September, 2006)
Tried that 1992 Lane Tanner Pinot Noir...last week. It was gorgeous. (September, 2006)
1987 Pinot, Sierra Madre
I opened a 1987 Lane Tanner Sierra Madre Pinot Noir and decanted for about an hour. I think this might be one of the best Lane Tanner Pinots Ive ever tried and believe me, Ive had my fair share. I describe tasting this wine as one of those "less is more " moments. The moment when all the fruit, tannin , acid meet their zenith. No one character is more obvious than another. I liked that the finish still showed that twinkle of youth. Ricki Hill, May, 2008.
1998 Pinot, Bien Nacido
I found a bottle of your 1998 Bien Nacido Pinot in my cellar and decided to see how it had fared after all these years. Of the 15 bottles on the table, it was the consensus #1 or #2 wine (the other was a ringer: a 2002 Burgundy). Amongst the "losers" were a too young Williams Selyam Hirsch and several Siduri Pinots. Radman, June, 2008.
2003 Pinot, Melvile
I was on vacation to the states in 2006 and bought a bottle of
your 2003 Pinot Noir Melville Vinyards from a wine shop in Solvang.
Along with a few other Californian Pinot's from the Santa Barbara
region, the top Pinot's from Germany and a quality selection of
Burgundy Pinot's, me and my wine club had a(nother) Pinot Noir tasting.
Your wine came unanimously in 1st place. My european wine friends
couldn't believe it. It was a great day for me (showing them that
Californian Pinot's can compete with the best in the world). It was
even the cheapest wine in the tasting.
Barry from the De Gock wine club in the Netherlands, June, 2008
Post Wine Years
1984 through 1986 Hitching Post Pinot Noir - These beauties are almost at the end of their life. Some bottles are dead while others are as good as any of their French counterparts of equal age. The 84 and 85 are a bit better than the 86 vintage. 1986 was a very soft year. Drink now or never.
1987 Hitching Post Pinot Noir is still quite sound. A big acid year! Drink now or continue to age another year or so.
1988 Hitching Post Pinot Noirs (Benidict and Santa Barbara Co.) are drinking beautifully. Drink now.
My Lane Tanner Label
1989 Santa Barbara Co. Pinot Noir - Soft and Elegant, wonderful aged flavors. Drink now, at it's peak.
1989 Benidict Vineyard Pinot Noir - Bigger and bolder that the SBC, drink now.
1990 Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir - A more gentle, refined wine. Beautifully herbal and sweet. Drink now, at it's peak.
1991 Santa Barbara Co. Pinot Noir - this is a blend of Sierra Madre and Bien Nacido Pinot. The structure is more firm because of the blend. This wine is showing great, drink now.
1991 Sanford and Benidict Pinot Noir - The S & B is always tight and racy. This is no exception. Both color and flavor are holding nicely. Decant and wait for about an hour to let it really breath. A taste sensation..leave some for morning. It's that well structured.
1992 Santa Barbara Co. Pinot Noir - very much like the 91 but younger. There are about 3 years here that taste very similar..91 to 93 just slightly more or less intense from age. Here is an unsolicited review from a friend
1/05 Last night Carol and I were invited to a dinner and we took along your 1992
Santa Barbara PN you gave me several years ago. I was worried as to how
well it had held up but I should not have. It was great. The color was
slightly softened from the bright red but the nose was still clearly PN with
no oxidation. The taste was everything I expect in a fine PN. You do do
1992 Sanford and Benedict Pinot Noir - Beautiful to drink now and/or keep ageing.
1993 Sierra Madre Plateau Pinot Noir - I added Gold Coast Vineyard to the Sierra Madre Vineyard and came up with the name. There really isn't a place called Sierra Madre Plateau'o well. The 93's were a bit light so this is showing more age than the 91 or 92 vintage. Drink now with some decanter time.
1993 Bien Nacido Vineyard - This is the first time I bottled a pure Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot. It came from the same rows I use today (Block N rows 62-76). This was the magical "Blue Moon" vintage. I actually picked the grapes the day of the Blue Moon (the second full moon in the same month). This wine is holding up well. Again, it is a bit on the softer side and probably won't last as long as other years. Drink now.
1993 Sanford and Benedict Vineyard - Pretty much the same as the 92 vintage.
1994 Sierra Madre Plateau Pinot Noir...Good to go...drink now
1994 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir ... also ready to drink
1994 Sanford and Benedict Pinot Noir - Not as structurally sound as with earlier years. The vineyard went from dry farming to irrigation and really screwed up the poor vines. This was my last year with this vineyard. Although it isn't as tight as years gone by, it still needs a few more years in bottle to be great in the glass.
1995 Bien Nacido and Sierra Madre Plateau Pinot Noir's - This was that disastrous year when the harvest was less than 0.7 tons/acre. The fruit was soo tight that it was undrinkable till just recently. These are finally tasting good but can be put on hold also.
1996 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir - This is rather nice right now. It is just entering into the complex stage so give it some air time. It still has many cellar years ahead of it.
1996 Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir - This was my last Sierra Madre wine. The Mondovies bought the vineyard that year and I no longer had access to the better grapes. This was always my personal favorite vineyard. It had a strong scent of the herb Horehound and an intense sweetness in the finish. Drink this now.
1996 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - This was my first Julias Pinot. It is a bit chunky and unbalanced. I think this is one you have to decide on your own. My gut feel is to leave it for a few more years before you taste it.
1997 Bien Nacido and Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir's - They are in the dumb stage right now. If you really want to taste them, let them breath a few hours before drinking.
1997 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir - This is a blend of 95% Bien Nacido Pinot and 5% Syrah. It is a bit chunky and stinky at the moment. Leave it be for now.
1998 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir ... if you want to try it now, make sure you decant it or keep on cellaring.
1998 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - ... if you want to try it now, make sure you decant it or keep on cellaring.
1998 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir - ... if you want to try it now, make sure you decant it or keep on cellaring.
1999 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir - Leave it be, needs more cellar time
1999 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - Leave it be, needs more cellar time
1999 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir - Leave it be, needs more cellar time
2000 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir ... Leave it be, needs more cellar time.
2000 Bien Nacido Vineyard and Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir's - the same as 2000 Julias' see above.
2000 Melville Vineyard Pinot Noir - This was my first Melville and the vineyards first year producing. It shows the fruitiness of young vines and may not last a very long time in the cellar. Taste it now or in just a few years.
2001 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - This was the first of a three year span of almost identical tasting vintages. They all had great hang time, show deep intensity and are overall wonderful. Starting to close down.
2001 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir ... Starting to close down
2001 Melville Vineyard Pinot Noir - The wine shows a bit more maturity than the 2000. Closed down..cellar time needed
2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir - This is just a baby. It tastes like very yummy Pinot Noir grapes. Cherry fruit framed by sweet oak and hints of violet move into a positively plush finish. Drink a bunch now and cellar a bunch for later.
2002 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - This baby sold out in a little over a month. It is intense and super tasty. You will enjoy the big fruit flavors with the hints of earth and mushrooms. Drink many bottles now and cellar many bottles for later.
2002 Melville Vineyard Pinot Noir - This wine is a bit bigger than the 2001 Melville. The grapes are now showing the mature fruit. There is an intensity in this that is similar to other Santa Rita Hills appellation Pinots. Drink-drink-drink and save some for your cellar.
2003 Julias Vineyard Pinot Noir - Haunting and sophisticated flavors leap out of the glass. It is brash and bold and not afraid to show it. If you need a wine to knock you over the head, try this. Remember to put a few cases away for later.
2003 Melville Vineyard Pinot Noir- I just had a bottle last week and it was finally tasting great. Drink now and keep cellarinf the rest
2003 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir- Just a bit funky at the moment
2004 Vintage Pinot Noirs- these babies turned on me like a pack of wild dogs. Around Fall of 2006, they dropped their fruit and became "Acid Bombs". Very similar to the Hitching Post 87's. The Bien Nacido is pulling out a bit but I would let all of these babies cellar for a few years. They will be outstanding...but not today.