Friday, November 3, 2017

Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir 2014

Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2014 at Burwell's Charlestown

We spent a getaway weekend in Charlestown, SC, where we discovered the city, took in a rare tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Auldbrass Plantation estate, and then escaped to Seabrook Island to visit friends for the weekend.

While in town we took in the 2 1/2 hour Charlestown Culinary Tour that highlights Charleston's Historic French Quarter. The walking tour traverses the historical neighborhoods dropping in to a collection of the city's hottest and historic restaurants showcasing food creations that make up Charlestown's history and culinary scene from traditional favorites to recent innovations. The tour highlights cuisine of favorite locally-owned and operated restaurants, conducted by Glen - a former chef, foodie and evangelist for the food scene of the Holy City. This is a great introduction to the culture, history, personalities and attitudes of all things food in this vibrant city.

Glen leads the tour through the streets with a half dozen stops revealing background, insights and perspectives of the Charlestown food scene with the chance to sample a variation of the spectrum of food offerings - barbecue, shrimp skewers, oysters, shrimp and grits, blueberry shakes, BLT, and decadent dessert. All the while Glen shares the latest happenings of the cityscape, chef's, sommeliers, and restaurants.

One of the many tips he offered was Burwell's Stone Fire Grill that features steaks and seafood selections cooked over a 1,400 degree, wood-fire oven, or 700 degree stonewood fired grill in the open kitchen adjacent to the bustling dining room (above). We dined at Burwell's that evening and had a great dinner validating his recommendation was a great choice.

We selected from Burwell's wine cellar (shown left) wine list this Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir to accompany our steak dinners. Normally, we'd order a Cabernet Sauvignon to go with a hearty grilled steak but the selective wine list offered two of our favorite Pinots at reasonable prices.

We're not normally Pinot Noir drinkers, favoring bigger more robust, more forward wines with concentrated fruit. Yet, I selected this Pinot for our dinner and it did not disappoint, standing up nicely to the steaks as well as seafood entrees. If one blind tasted this wine, they might think it is a Petit Sirah with its deep color and firm but refined approachable tannins. While it still maintains some of the flavor profile of a Pinot with that dusty rose tone, this is big and complex with tasty concentrated forward fruit.

Belle Glos is the brand developed by Joe Wagner, son of the legendary Chuck Wagner, owner of the well known Caymus brand and producer of the ultra-premium "Special Selection" Cabernet. Joe has also launched the popular moderately priced Meiomi brand. The Belle Glos brand is devoted entirely to distinctive, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs sourced from properties in Sonoma County, the Sonoma Coast and this one down in the central coast Santa Lucia Highlands.

With the emphasis on single vineyard designated labels, its all about terroir, that sense of place associated with vineyard with its distinctive soil, climate or micro-climate, elevation, terrain, location relative to coast, mountains or other influences - all those elements that contribute to a particular wine. And since they are based on factors associated with a location, climatic and seasonal variations aside, they will be relatively consistent from year to year, vintage to vintage, thereby becoming part of the brand and identity for that label.

The vineyard notes say of this wine: "The Spanish term ‘Las Alturas’ means ‘the heights’, a fitting name for this vineyard located on one of the highest grape-growing benches in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. The vineyard sits at an elevation between 540 and 1210 feet where the sunny but very cool climate creates a wine bearing all the hallmarks of this coastal region: robust, expressive, full bodied and balanced by a firm acidity.

Nestled between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the western side of Salinas Valley, Las Alturas benefits from early morning fog which rolls in most days from Monterey Bay then burns off within a few hours. Gusty winds funnel in from the bay throughout the afternoon, moderating the overall temperature and contributing to one of the longest growing seasons in California. The high winds also result in smaller berries with very thick skins, giving us more color concentration. Another attractive characteristic of this vineyard is the low-vigor, free-draining sub-soil made up of a calcareous base underneath a layer of sandy loam. This complements our farming techniques to further reduce our yields per vine and augment the fruit’s intensity."

Belle Glos "Las Alturas" Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey County Pinot Noir 2014

This was deep ruby red in color with intriguing aromas of sun-warmed blackberries, ripe plums, with hints of black licorice. A complexity of dark berry fruits unfold on the palate; blackberries and bing cherries along with dark chocolate flavors. Vanilla and cedar oak undertones on the mid-palate further enhance the wine. The overall impression is rich with refined tannins, firm acidity and explosive layers of ripe fruit.

RM 91 points.
92 points Wine Spectator