Last year around this time, I was sort of gifted a bottle of 2005 Windy Oaks Pinot Noir Estate from the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Gifted in that a generous guy from the wine boards brought this and another wine to dinner, thinking we'd open this one and I could have the other for another time. Before I knew that, I'd opened the other wine and this never got opened. It was one of those faux pas that wine geeks loathe. You bring a nice bottle, it doesn't get opened. Dang. Worse yet when you're the host. So apologies to Stu. Thanks for your generosity.
I was so intrigued by this wine, I wasn't sure when to open it. Tonight, with a nice fire roaring and the family for an early Christmas at home before we travel...this seemed like the time. Wow, is this an impressive, delicious California pinot noir.
Here in Oregon, Cali wine gets little respect. None less than Cali pinot. THIS is pinot country. California pinot? Isn't that zinfandel? Well, of course not. Sure, lots of pinot noir from the golden state is big fruited and lush. That's not true of everything, though. Case in point here.
The Windy Oaks is from California's Oregon, the Santa Cruz mountains. Rugged, fir covered, full of hippies and other greenery, you could drop me in Soquel and I might think I were in Oregon's coast range somewhere near Manzanita. So it's natural to find a kindred Oregon spirit in this wine.
The color is a nice ruddy ruby, befitting delicate, beginning to age pinot noir. The aroma is perfumed, showing lots of herbaceous whole cluster fermentation notes, integrated wood spice and bright raspberries. At first it seemed a little too herbaceous, even green peppery with a candied note. With time that morphed into peppery stem and finely woven fruit and spice notes. This is nice.
The flavors are nicely focused with raspberry, cured meat and lovely wood spice notes. Everything's well knit, bright with fine tannic texture and good length, finishing with nice savor that leaves you thirsting for more rather than full of "flavor" and a dulled sensibility.
This is simply one of the nicest new world pinot noirs I've had in a while and certainly the best from California I've tried in a long time. Not that I try too many these days, but this is clearly special. I've heard good things from this producer and this bottle alone suggests those reports are right on. Windy Oaks is something I want more of. Thanks Stu, I owe you.