2009 Central Coast Pinot Noir
California: Central Coast
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from LaZarre Wines is truly a wine of elegance and finesse. If you are a fan of the great Pinot, this wine belongs in your cellar. In addition, our covert operatives know that this wine has been submitted for numerous awards and ratings, so get your allocation before the rest of the world discovers this tremendous wine.
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Mission Codename: The Rock Star Rises Again
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire a limited allocation of the legendary Pinot made by Adam LaZarre
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: LaZarre Wines
Wine Subject: 2009 Central Coast Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara and San Luis Obisbo County has become one of the state’s premier regions for Pinot Noir. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in Pinot of exceptional purity.
Adam LaZarre, while he is officially the winemaker for Villa San-Juliette Winery (and formerly from Hahn Estates and their affiliated labels) has been making super-premium, limited quantity Pinot for years and has elevated his skill to an art form. Always an operative favorite, this wine is well worth tasting.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intensely dark burgundy with a dark clear core that shows ruby streaks when held to the light. Along the edges the color remains dark and dense except on the very edges where pinkish hues appear. When swirled randomly spaced medium lets cling to the side of the glass.
Smell – Rich and redolent, with aromas of exotic spice leading the ripe and earthy black cherry layered and smoke and a touch of graphite. Adding to the complexity, hints of toasted oak, fizzy cola and a creamy vanilla emerge that invites you to take a sip.
Feel – Rich and smooth on the initial attack and expansive on the palate, this full bodied dry wine has firm, but velvety tannins and a balanced but present acidity that that hits with a tanginess at mid-palate and lasts into the finish.
Taste – Rich, plush, generous and complex flavors of earthy black cherry great you immediately as you take your first sip. As this wine rolls across your palate flavors of complex exotic spice, smoke and cola. Soft earthiness and a touch of toasted oak and a vanilla component holds everything together.
Finish – Long and rich in length with lingering smokey and earthy black cherry cola, spice and vanilla oak notes. This wine is extremely suave and complex with abundant flavors that lasts and lasts!
Conclusion – Once again, Adam hits a home run with his 2009 LaZarre Central Coast Pinot Noir. A complex wine that shows all the power as well as elegance and finesse , but with the richer California fruit profile. Complex and intriguing on the nose. A rich and plush structure frames the ripe fruit and other complex flavors and its long finish begs for another sip. This wine is drinking amazing right now but will continue to develop and evolve for several years to come.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Adam LaZarre, AKA Agent Orange
WINE EDUCATION: Fresno State University Bachelor of Science Enology
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker/Director of Operations at Villa San-Juliette Winery. Consulting Winemaker for Hearst Ranch Winery. Former VP of Winemaking at Hahn Estates, several Central Coast wineries over the past two decades
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: People drink wine in good times and in bad, therefore, always make your wine taste expensive
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing…”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Under my label? November,2004 – LaZarre 2003 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Adam – AKA Agent Orange. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Central Coast Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ORANGE: Dude. Always a pleasure to chat with a real secret agent.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ORANGE: Yup. Well, several. I can think of a number of wines that changed my paradigm
about wine at various times throughout my life. 1970 Lynch-Bages my dad had in the cellar, 1977 Graham’s Vintage Port, 1986 J. Phelps Insignia, 1985 Beringer Knights Valley Cab, and a particular late 80’s Chardonnay from Western Australia…the name escapes me.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ORANGE: The late Don Blackburn, former winemaker at Bernardus taught me of the importance of mouthfeel. Barry Gnekow, consultant and former J. Lohr winemaker taught me the importance of always overdelivering in every bottle, all the time. Rick Boyer (Jekel/Blackstone), Paul Clifton (Hahn Estates), and Christian Rougenant (Tangent/Baileyanna) have all added something to my technique and style.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
ORANGE: Companies? Villa San-Juliette Winery, Hearst Ranch Winery, my own brand. I make wine for the consumers. I make wine the owners are proud to take to a party. For me and my wife’s label, I make a wine that we can drink at home without getting bored of it.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ORANGE: This is the newest iteration of our Central Coast Pinot Noir. It’s a blend of a collection of vineyards that range from the Santa Lucia Highlands down to the Santa Rita Hills. I got out of the single-vineyard bottlings with this vintage because of the inherent high costs of putting together small lots of world-famous vineyards. People just aren’t spending a small fortune on individual bottles of Pinot anymore so I put together a killer blend from some relatively unknown vineyards. The blend does include about 25% of a very well-known 90+ point vineyard, but because I promised not to use the name, the cost of the grapes dropped in half. I also have a tiny, 1 acre Monterey mountainside vineyard owned by Paul and Robin Slocum that I use that also makes up about 25% of the overall blend. Awesome stuff.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ORANGE: Man, I’ve had a chance to travel around the country with this wine conducting winemaker dinners all over. I’ve had it paired with virtually everything from squab to salmon to wild boar as this wine has the depth and structure to go with the reddest of meats. But I would have to say that my favorite pairing was with a roast duck dish in a Pinot and cherry reduction topped with freshly shaved black truffles. It was served alongside a white bean cassoulet that had been cooked in a combination of duck fat, goose fat, and chicken fat. Ugh. I felt my arteries harden for three weeks after that dish…
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Central Coast so special?
ORANGE: The Central Coast has such a wide variety of climates and microregions. There are places too hot to grow Zinfandel and too cold to grow Riesling. But no place is too far from the ocean so that you can’t get the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean. For Pinot, there are the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria Valley, and the Santa Rita Hills amongst others.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ORANGE: At the winery? Hell, I’m still on the road preaching the gospel of wine and Pinot Noir. But when I do get home, I am busy ordering new equipment and finishing construction on two new winery buildings and a new tasting room.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ORANGE: A glass of wine should ALWAYS leave you asking “What food would I pair with this?” It has to beg the question. It should be the first thought you have after your very first sip. I hope mine do just that. But a wine should still be complete enough to stand on its own as an aperitif.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine
Cinnamon, clove, and gunpowder nose. Black cherry cola flavors layered over red fruit compote. Complex. Sauvage. Interesting. Velvet Pinot mouthfeel tiptoes on a tightrope of delicate acidity.
So it’s come to this: Years of making dinky lot, high end, muy expensive single vineyard Pinot Noirs and now I’m reduced to a single blend. “What the hell?” you may ask.
“Dammit Jim! I’m a Vulcan, not a winemaker!!!”
The answer, is that tiny lot, single vineyard wines are very expensive to make, and thus, very expensive for you. It’s fun for your ego to say that you have an $80 Pinot Noir. It’s quite another thing to go and try to sell it. Frankly, having a wine that’s blended from some of my favorite small lot, non-famous vineyards is remarkably satisfying. And in the end, I get to make a much more consistent wine from fascinating vineyards out of fascinating appellations (Santa Rita Hills, Edna Valley, Monterey, Santa Lucia Highlands).
The blend is designed for each one of the wine lots to compliment each other and highlight individual strengths as one, single unit.
Adam – Remember the leopard!!!
We often think of Pinot Noir as conforming to one of two distinct styles: Burgundian or Californian. So what defines either? I think I understand what people are referencing when the conversation comes up, but I don’t think that a delineation of these two “styles” is that easy to define, nor is universally applied. Generally speaking, when someone tells me a Pinot is Californian in style, I immediately understand without so much as a confirming taste that what they are saying, is that the wine is oaky, rich, and “clean” – cherry/strawberry notes without the more interesting complexities that whole cluster fermentation and reductive winemaking contribute to the aromatic and flavor profile. I hope that was as diplomatic a definition. I wouldn’t want to be on record as saying “stinky”.
In contrast, when someone tells me a wine is Burgundian, I usually take it to mean that the wine possesses aromas that are reductive, stemmy, or generally unusual and the flavors can only be described as austere. To me, that is untrue, disingenuous, and even insulting to the wines that actually originate in Burgundy. The fact is, only wines that come from Burgundy can be described as “Burgundian”. The terroir is so unique and the growing conditions so inimitable as to be almost completely irreproducible anywhere else in the world…save Oregon in certain years. Outside of that, Pinot Noir must and should be only known as Pinot Noir, without any other defining adjective outside of the descriptors that define the wine in question. Then all will be right in the world and I can get back to my favorite past time: bitching about the over-planting and subsequent over-production of Merlot. Oh, and drinking tequila. Yep. Don’t want to forget that. I love tequila.
How lucky to have made Pinot Noir in 2007. It is by all accounts the best vintage EVER for the variety on the Central Coast, maybe all of California. I can tell you with 100% certainty that the LaZarre wines of 2007 are by far the best I’ve ever made. Just remarkable. Intense. Deep. Structured. Complex. Complete. It is a blend of Sierra Madre Vineyards from the Santa Maria Valley and a famous San Luis Obispo County Pinot Vineyard that I can’t name because of contractual obligations. Nothing is simple with me. Sorry.
About The Winery:
I started LaZarre Wine Company in 2003 as a means to produce unique, small quantity releases of wines I find fascinating, particularly (but not limited to) Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blancs. As a successful veteran winemaker working for some of the most exclusive wineries on the Central Coast I get to work with some of the most remarkable vineyards in California but often have no vehicle that I can use to showcase their wines as they are normally just components in a bigger blend. LaZarre Wines gives me just such a vehicle, often producing vineyard designated or sub-appellation specific wines. Almost all are small lot and hand crafted with minimalist “winemaker intervention”. Just crush, ferment, and jam into the barrel. The strength of the wine lies in the vineyard – as it should be.
About Adam Lazarre – Winemaker
Adam LaZarre is also the man behind outstanding wines here at Villa San-Juliette Winery. Making the transition from Hahn Estates Winery in Monterey where he has been the head winemaker for the past 8 years, Adam has an impressive list of accomplishments under his belt. He has lead the nation in gold medal hauls three out of the last five years as well as Best-of-Show awards. In addition, he has been honored by the Sacramento Bee as Winemaker of the Year in 2005, and was named one of the Top Five Winemakers in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Adam first fell in love with California wine while serving in the US Navy. At some point, his passion for the liquid became so consuming, that he enrolled in the Enology program at Fresno State University immediately upon receiving his honorable discharge. While in the department, he fell in love with the Central Coast wine growing region and chose to make it his home upon graduation. Although he has produced wines from virtually every major appellatin in California over the course of his two decade career, he truly enjoys above all else the challenges and rewards that Paso Robles wine making has to offer. While walking through the vineyards after first meeting with Ken and Nigel, it became apparent to him that Villa San-Juliette should be his new home. All of us here are excited to have Adam in charge of the team.
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
Appellation: Central Coast
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Cases Produced: 380
Cooperage: 14 months, 30% New Allier, 70% one and two year old mixed French Oak
Bottling date: Jan 25, 2011