December 17, 2009

Really nice Cali pinot noir from Windy Oaks

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.


Marshall Manning said...

I haven't had the wine, but it comes from the standard "take a feature of nature and an applicable adjective" school of winery naming:

Lazy River
Gurgling Brook
Whispering Pines
Windy Oaks

They all sound like CA subdivisions.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Too true. The name doesn't inspire me. The wine however is pretty darn good.

Lazy River is an Oregon label. But you knew that.

Anonymous said...

That's not as bad as combining your children's names into one name for your vineyard/winery

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Now wait a minute. I was of the opinion that combining names in any way usually ends up totally cheesy. Actually that's true, but the reason people do it is often because winery and wine names can be really difficult to figure out. So many people have claims on this name or that, or sort of this name or that, so you're not really sure if a name you pick is going to be free of any legal challenge (right or wrong) down the line. Even if you're right about using a particular name, if someone wants to fight you, you better be ready to spend money to defend yourself. There is example after example of situations like that. One obvious solution - pick two names and combine parts of them, so that no one anywhere is ever going to challenge it. On that subject, I have good news on my quest to use my name Vincent on my commercial wine. Lots of people have "Vincent" in part of their name. Apparently, I should be ok. More on that in a post soon.

Marshall Manning said...

What about combining your name with Jennifer's and coming up with Vin Jenn? Vinifer? Jencent?

Or, you could use the kids and do Marlores? Dortin? Dolortin? Martores? Of course Martores might be close to Marimar Torres.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Dortin? Oh my gawd. That's perfect.

Nope, Vincent it will be. The world is saved from Dortin. Though if Dortin produced a Norton, now that would make for a nice wine note.

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