Ridiculously light sparkling transparent garnet with clear edges making up half the glass diameter. I know I just said it last night half-jokingly about a light-colored Merlot, but this SERIOUSLY is lighter than QUITE A FEW Paso rosés! Big polished dirty-baby-diaper and steely green earth muddle around with dank boysenberry and sawdust. A teensy latex stank rises up out of a richness hinting at concentration with a tinge of alcohol.
As most of my readers know, *Burgundian-style* applied to California Pinot Noir in 99.999% of applications drives me nuts and is complete bullshit. Forget the fact some of the most-revered Pinots touted as Burgundian style are fat ripe 14-9 candy heroin IV drip pancake syrup with nothing but velvety yumminess, a tight allocation and a handful of 90+ scores. These wines have no green-ness, no funk, no barnyard, no shit, no vegetal, no tannin, NONE OF THE CHARACTER which makes great Burg and–coincidentally–makes Cali-wonk go “ewwwwwww!” when they stick their nose in it. So why call them Burgundian Style? Because it sells wine.
The above mis-use of the term bothers me, sure. But not as much as the OTHER great use of the caveat, and that is to apologize for bad Pinot. Just like printing OLD VINE on a terrible Zinfandel, referring to a “deep respect for Burgundy and styling our wines after these wines” on your back label or passing off that initial look of shock on a taster’s face with a casual, “They’re Burgundian style, for sure,” this is a tool to sell wine.
Why bring all this up again? Because THIS wine in front of me truly is one of THE most Burgundian-styled Pinots from California I have ever had. And I want you to understand the gravity with which I apply such a term. You know I basically NEVER use the phrase because it is flat-out wrong to do so, as California Pinot Noirs taste NOTHING like Burgundy. And I am not setting Burgundy up on a pedestal nor am I short-selling Pinot Noir. One is not better than the other, they just aren’t the same. And never will be. But occasionally–very rarely–you run into a Pinot from our Mediterranean climate which can remind you of France. This one does. With an obvious side of California ripeness, this one does.
In the mouth, instant sweet pinot fruit, tempered by a thin-ness, that beautiful watery-ness dusted with flakes of spice and earth and candy-canes of acid. Tannin begins growing mid-palate and has a beautiful honey-pepper brilliance by finish-time, where a grandmother’s linen closet dusty floral and stale perfume lean the rich fruit out onto razor rails.
This is contender for Pinot of 2017.
2014 ORFILA VINEYARDS ‘Stem Head’ Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley San Luis Obispo County 12.3