Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aged Anderson Valley Pinot is a Beautiful Thing

I turn 29 today. I'm throwing a Châteauneuf-du-Pape tasting for my friends tomorrow for the official celebration, but last night, my last night as a 28-year-old, I decided to open up an aged pinot noir to mourn the loss of another year of youth. At 14-years-old, the 1998 Elke Vineyards Pinot Noir "Donnelly Creek Vineyard" gives me hope that the good things in life really do get better with age. The grapes come from one of my favorite regions for pinot noir: Mendocino County's Anderson Valley. I have family in the area and I've traveled a lot through Mendocino, so Anderson Valley will always have a special spot in my heart.

On the eyes: Gorgeous ruby color with just a bit of cloudiness (the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered). As California pinot noir ages, the color just gets more and more beautiful. I could gaze into this wine for a long time, it’s just that pretty.

On the nose: The nose is everything I expect from an Anderson Valley pinot noir, plus a medley of unique aged characteristics. You get the sweet cherry and cool raspberry fruit, but a lot of spices as well (cinnamon, clove, rhubarb). There’s this really spicy aroma that comes out after a few hours being open that really reminds me of cayenne pepper or some sort of Asian red pepper paste. I can’t remember ever smelling this in a wine before, but I love it.

On the palate: The tannins are split 50/50 between silk and fine-ground coffee, and the combination is beautiful. Raspberry and wild cherry fruit dominate, along with a hint of milk chocolate. Flavors of pipe tobacco and cedar add a good cigar shop aspect to the wine. The acid provides refreshment and balance. Sappy red fruit and beef broth tones linger on the finish.

I can’t believe how well this pinot has held up, and perhaps it still got a few years ahead of it. But it’s showing perfectly right now and I don't see any reason to hold onto this wine any longer.

91 points

Now, here's the real kicker: I bought this wine at auction for $10! All those hours poring over auction lists paid off. Happy birthday to me! I hope in 14 more years I'm still as youthful as this wine.

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