2005 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Bien Nacido Vineyard
California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Maria Valley
What we say
2008 Wine Intrigue Award Winner: Operatives Choice, Top Exclusive Wine
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is an absolutely perfect Pinot Noir. Did we mention that we got our hands on the final few cases??
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Mission Codename: A Walk on the Wild Side
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Procure a quantity of Adam LaZarre Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: LaZarre Wines
Wine Subject: 2005 LaZarre Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
If there is a bad boy rockstar winemaker, its Adam LaZarre. Okay, maybe that’s overstating things a bit, but if Elvis was the King of Rock & Roll, Adam LaZarre is the king of modern winemaking.
LaZarre is part of the winemaking team at Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook winery, where he holds the title of Vice President. He’s also the guy that was principally responsible for the mega-success of the Rex Goliath brand, which sold to Constellation Brands for a reported $30 Million.
Today, LaZarre travels the world, evangelizing for Hahn Estates and is away from his fields for more than 30 weeks out of the year. When he is home in Monterey County, he can be found in the vineyards or in his laboratory, mixing, blending, tasting, and making sweet music.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Medium ruby with pink highlighting
Smell – BIG gunpowder on opening, mellowing and expressing sweet cherry, amber, cedar wood, chocolate, leather and smoked herbs (no, not THOSE kind!)
Feel – Velvety butter, big in the mouth but not overpowering, with pleasing medium tannins
Taste – Deliciously juicy, with earthy berry, cherry, stonefruit and gunpowder
Finish – Big finish with strong and long-lasting flavors
Conclusion – A tremendous wine from a real star of modern winemaking, this special Pinot is a rockstar in its own right. Don’t let that turn you away, this wine has a refined character and an elegance that allows to fit in perfectly with the more polite sectors of society
While on recent mission, one of my assets introduced me to a young woman that was ‘in the biz’. It turns out that she had some inside information on a winery that we had been gathering intel on for some time, Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook Winery. I took the opportunity, then and there, to recruit her as an active asset. This has paid off for The Wine Spies and our network of wine drinking Agents in a big way; this new asset, Codename Neutron, quickly tipped me off about Hahn (more on them in a future mission) and about their master winemaker Adam LaZarre, who had just launched his own wine label, LaZarre.
Neutron, who is deeply connected in the wine world, was quickly able to arrange a secret meeting for me with Adam LaZarre. A few days later, I found myself at the beautiful Hahn Estate where I was greeted by Neutron who shepherded me to the Hahn tasting room. I recommend that you visit this particular tasting room, with its incredible view of the Hahn vineyards below.
I stood there at the tasting counter, chatting with the friendly Hahn staff, pretending to be a wine buyer from a retail store in Beverly Hills. After a while of talking and tasting Hahn wines, I was informed LaZarre was at last on his way.
Adam LaZarre is a legend and I could not help but feel a little reverence as I anticipated our meeting. When at last a freshly showered and sunglass clad Adam walked in – with his sidekick mutt Maxie in tow – he gave a friendly wave and then walked right on by me, disappearing behind the tasting counter. He dove into an industrial refrigerator and then emerged with a cold beverage, which he quickly guzzled. After a refreshed-sounding, “Ahhhhhh!”, Adam LaZarre, still in mirrored shades, came up and shook my hand.
The next hour was spent tasting wine and discussing wine, winemaking, grape growing, chemistry, rock stars, more wine and finally, Adam’s newest wine, LaZarre Pinot Noir. A delicious example of one of my favorite varietals, this particular wine, with its leopard print label and cork, is quite down-to-earth and very balanced for a wine with a wild-looking label.
Adam invited me into his private offices, where we continued our discussions, this time discussing his new Pinot Noir in greater detail. He showed me this mention, by wine writer Dan Berger:
“2005 LaZarre Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard : Racy central coast aroma of dried herbs and cherries, with a rich mid-palate, great substance, and superb length.”
I thought that was great for a short description, but you should read my tasting notes below for my more detailed impressions.
While this is a very limited production wine, I was able to negotiate with Adam LaZarre for a small quantity of this wine for our Operatives. If you love Pinot Noir, you will really enjoy this particular one. Try it and you will see why Adam LaZarre deserves all of the praise and credit that he gets for his winemaking.
What color are Adam LaZarre’s eyes? I still don’t know. He never took off his sunglasses.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The vicinity of the vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo
What the winery says
From the Wine Label:
“Damn! I knew I was in trouble. The big cat’s face appeared through the mist. With a rush, it leaped straight for me, only to fall helplessly a few feet away. I rolled it onto its back and noticed the purple stain around its mouth. The cat let out a stunning belch. “Jesus!” The smell of wine and Dik-Dik washed over my face. “This guy is obviously drunk”, I thought to myself, “no sober creature would ever pair Pinot Noir with Antelope!”
About Adam Lazarre – Winemaker
With the Hahn Estates’ revitalization program in high gear, winemaker Adam LaZarre was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the best of Monterey when he joined the winery in 2001. Adam was introduced to California wines while in the U.S. Navy, stationed at the Naval base in Alameda, California. Repeated trips to Napa reinforced his passion for wine and launched a dream that would shape his future. After completion of six years of service in the Navy, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker and enrolled and graduated from California State University, Fresno. During his studies, Adam discovered and fell in love with the wines of the Central Coast. Since graduating from Fresno, Adam has mostly concentrated his efforts on winemaking in this bountiful region, working at Elliston Vineyards, Jekel and Riverland vineyards before joining the team at Hahn Estates / Smith & Hook.
About The Vineyard:
extracted from the Bien Nacido website
The Bien Nacido Vineyard has become one of the most prestigious and best known vineyards in the Santa Maria appellation – a region which owes much of its reputation as a producer of world class wines to the remarkable Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, and Merlot wines produced from Bien Nacido Vineyard grapes.
The vineyard traces its roots back to the year 1837 when a Spanish land grant of some two square leagues was made to Tomas Olivera by Juan Bautista Alvarado, then Gobernador of Alta California. This grant covered nearly 9,000 acres ranging upward to the San Rafael Mountains from the Santa Maria Mesa, which bordered the Sisquoc and Cuyama Rivers. The ranch was generously watered by Tepusquet Creek, so called by the Chumash Indians to whom it meant “fishing for trout.” Thomas Olivera sold Rancho Tepusquet in 1855 to his son-in-law Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros and daughter Martina. Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros started construction on an adobe in 1857 and moved to the ranch the following year. He and his wife raised horses, cattle, sheep, several grain crops, and grapes for the production of wine. During subsequent years, his heirs divided the property until only about fourteen hundred acres remained surrounding the Ontiveros Adobe.
Santa Maria Valley is one of California’s coolest grape growing appellations with one of the longest growing seasons in the world. The well-drained, lean soils are direct access to cool Pacific Ocean breezes and fog funneled to the vineyards by transverse mountain ranges, make it one of America’s premier growing regions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Wine Spies Technical Wine Analysis:
Appellation: Santa Maria Valley
Winemaker: Adam LaZarre
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Bottling date: March 14, 2007