Some friends and I were talking about Napa and wine the other evening. We were celebrating a successful home move-in in the city (not that I’m a real estate guru, but quick tip: SF is a buyer’s market right now – rents are through the roof). The place was nearly empty, some unpacked boxes lay around. But we had bottles of wine! So we hung around the kitchen island, and waxed poetic.
Someone quickly said, “I don’t like my wine to taste like candy. Wine should taste like … wine!”
We all immediately agreed. We also agreed that one of the best spots on American soil to source uniformly source quality Pinot is about an hour north, up in Carneros, located in the southern (and cooler) part of the Napa Valley.
If we put the “candied” and sweeter Pinots on one end of the spectrum, and earthy, dry ones on the other end, I’d place this one somewhere in the middle. All the traditional Pinot attributes are here including that leather-y thing (how did we ever get to describe wine as leather – do we mean tobacco?), rich dark berries, vanilla on the finish and some earthiness (though subdued here). It’s not as dry as some of my favorite Pinots (Williams Selyem, Whetstone, Artesa), but for only $22 it’s a veritable bargain for a Bergundian style wine.
Terroir is always a popular topic of discussion whenever oenophiles gather. Does soil imprint a unique flavor profile on wines? Or is the matter more likely in the hands of the winemaker?
I’d suggest both. Carneros is one of the appellations where I swear there’s a unique quality to the wines, especially the Pinots. I don’t know that I’d be able to identify one in a blind tasting 10 out of 10 times, but I think I could pick up on its quality on an above average basis. It’s a flavor profile that I’ve come to really appreciate.
Waterstone 2009 Pinot Noir Carneros
100% Pinot Noir
14.4% alc. / 14 months oak aging
$22 / 88 pts. (look for this Waterstone wine on Amazon for around $17, a screaming bargain for a quality Carneros Pinot)