I often lament about how difficult it is to find a high QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) Pinot Noir under $20. Called the 'heartbreak grape' (see my review of The Heartbreak Grape, A California Winemakers Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir by Marc de Villiers, 1994, Harper Collins) for its finicky difficulty to cultivate, it took decades for California producers to get this varietal to come around. Here is a rare California Pinot Noir that offers enjoyable sophisticated Pinot Noir at every day prices. I bought some, drank it, bought some more, and I am going back for more. Hopefully my blog post doesn't empty the shelves before I restock.
Sourced from fruit from Guadagni Family Wines, a small family run business that according to records is managed by Donald, Joseph, Mary, William and Breanna at their location on Yokim Bridge Road in Healdsburg. They're reported to produce about 1000 cases a year but views of the property show large tracts of young vines and new plantings so we might expect to see much more of them in the coming vintages.
The grapes are selected from the Russian River appellation, renowned specifically for the cool-climate conducive to growing great Pinot Noir. The vineyards for this wine are along the Russian River and within walking distance of the Coastal Mountain Range. Influenced by the marine layer that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean with its moderating effect on morning and later afternoon temperatures, sending cool air through the gorge cut by the river. They cite moderate daytime temperatures as key to retaining the delicate and unique characters of the grapes, while the cool nights encourage the vine to retain acidity through to the harvest. Whatever the cause, the effects are a sophisticated yet pleasant, easy drinking wine that are available at a good value price.
The winemaker's comments sum it up well - "Classic aromas of fresh turned soil, cola, and red cherries. Black raspberry, pink peppercorn spice and caramel add depth. Light in body with creamy, vanilla infused raspberry and baking spice. Balanced, silky tannins for a long smooth finish."
Dark blackish garnet colored, medium light bodied, it exhibits tones of nicely balanced cherry, raspberry, cinnamon and vanilla giving way to a layer of anise and smoky spicy oak on a firm lingering acidic finish.
RM 88 points.