Californian Pinots: mary elke and Loring Wine Company

You guys.  I have a confession.

I don’t drink many Californian wines.

I know, I know.  It’s foolish of me to turn my back on the state the produces 89% of the wine in the US.  It’s pure laziness on my part, because I live right in the middle of Oregon’s Pinot Noir territory, and I work in a wine shop that revels in the big reds of Washington.  Which is to say, I get my needs met elsewhere.  I know, objectively, that there are about 7000 reasons for me to start paying attention to California, but until recently, I’ve been thoroughly content to wander a weaving path through the wonderland of the Willamette’s boutique wines.

No more.

These Californians make me feel like this.

This past week, I wound up somehow sipping not one, but two Californian Pinots, with three more added to the booze closet.  I began the week with one I’d purchased a year and a half ago based solely on the recommendation of Darryl Joannides, proprietor of the outstanding wine shop, cork, in Portland, Oregon.

It’s the mary elke 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir: a clear, medium-intensity ruby in color with clean, medium-plus intensity aromas of wet earth, ripe boysenberries and cherries with hints of coffee, clove and cedar.  The flavors are of similar intensity.  The coffee I’d picked up in the aromas acts as a ferry, carrying flavors of dark fruits and berries, earth, pie spices and even hazelnut liqueur across the palate, and lingering as the predominant flavor of the finish, bracketed by the spice flavors.  It’s of medium acidity, medium on tannins (small and smooth, but over time they should  turn this wine truly silky), and slightly hot in the alcohol department, clocking in at 14.3% abv.  This is a wine that is drinkable now, but could easily keep another 4 years or so.

A few nights later, I spent my evening with my friends Amy and Lynnette, proprietors of the incomparable Republic of Jam in Carlton, Oregon.  After dinner, we buckled down to organize and clean out their wine collection in preparation for an upcoming cellar party.  This was no simple task.  We spent 2+ hours and set aside 8 cases for the party.  As thanks for my effort, I was sent home with some exciting Californian pinots that have been waiting years to be imbibed.

In short order, I found myself unable to resist the Loring Wine Company‘s 2006 Brosseau Vineyard from the Chalone AVA.

It was medium-minus ruby moving toward brick in color, with medium intensity aromas.  I smelled dried cranberries and strawberry jam right off the bat, with a graphite sort of mineral, pepper and funk playing in the background.  While the fruit aromas were of the dried and condensed variety, the flavors were anything but!  I was delighted by the brisk, fresh fruit that greeted my tongue.  Raspberry and cranberry in particular, underpinned by dark chocolate and oak with lingering black pepper on the finish.  And did I mention the mineral?  Oh, so much mineral.  I love mineral-ly wines, and LWC’s delivered what could be considered a motherlode.  To anyone out there hoarding a bottle of this, I’d say drink it now.  It’s tasting amazing.

After these two impressive bottles of pinot from California, I threw up my hands in surrender.

It’s definitely time to start exploring the world of California Pinot. I won’t treat it like it’s oh so typical.


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