2007 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Bien Nacido Vineyard
California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Maria Valley
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: LaZarre Focused
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: 2007 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley
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 – Dark garnet, with sparkling Burgundy edges and a perfect clarity through its slightly darkening heart. When swirled, the wine shows a bouncy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind wide-spaced clusters of branching skinny legs that streak down the edges of the glass
Smell – Lush and warm with layers of fruit and earthy goodness, including black cherry, ripe raspberry and smoky cranberry, with darker mixed berries, soft leather, soft spice of cinnamon and soft clovey gunpowder
Feel – Medium-weight and soft up front, then wet and tender on the mid-palate where soft tannins gently grip in with a soft minerality. The wine coats the mouth and then settles in, where complexity of feel and flavor are revealed at the top of the mouth and all over the tongue
Taste – Balanced, youthful and delicious with ripe red cherry and strawberry leading the way. These flavors linger as smoky and dark mixed berries mingle with soft oak, mild spice, leather and minerals
Finish – A long and full finish that starts off sweet and then tails off to slightly tart, with dusky fruit flavors that linger on and on
Conclusion – This is a fantastic Pinot Noir from one of our very favorite winemakers. We have developed a wonderful friendship with Adam LaZarre and we are blessed with special previews of his newest wines. We have featured a handful of Adam’s wines and we have always, always been impressed and delighted. Today’s 2007 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir is another fantastic Pinot Noir, a varietal that Adam LaZarre seems to enjoy perfect stewardship of – rather than control over. This wine is a very delicious delight that is also very food friendly, and very flexible. I tried something daring with my sample bottle; I paired it with pork fried rice that I added curry powder to. This was a risky pairing, but you know what? It worked beautifully! The wine held up amazingly, actually enhancing the experience. Each brought out additional flavors in the other! This is a perfect companion to a fine meal, but it also makes a complex and conversation-enticing solo-sipping wine. Enjoy!
The call came in at 2AM, thinking to myself, this had better be good. Wiping my eyes, I answered the phone. The voice at the other end of the line, using a voice scramble, said to meet at the Playboy Mansion in 30 minutes, use name ‘Agent Orange’ to get in. While Hef’s place is just around the corner you just can’t show up without looking good. You never know who you might run into.
A speed record breaking shower, quick shave and I threw on my tux, grabbed my spy gear and rushed out the door. I arrived with just seconds to spare.
As always, the party was just getting started so I walked up to the extremely large doorman/bouncer and only said ‘Agent Orange’. Fully expecting a thorough ass-whooping, I tried to hide the flinch of my body as he reached out his hand.
“Right this way, sir…”, as he forcefully gestured me to enter the house. I was lead past dozens of people and carefully treaded over the many a tongue hanging out at the amazing beauty that surrounded me,.. the house silly – what were you thinking?. Thankfully, Agent Blush wasn’t there to supervise me. We reached the back yard and we walked through the gardens to the far side of the swimming pool which was full of lovely eye-candy.
Just before reaching the grotto I saw a familiar face, wearing his trademark dark sunglasses (even though it was now 2:45AM). With a big smile on his face, our good friend and winemaker extraordinaire Adam LaZarre reached out his hand and gave me a big hug.
“I thought you’d like this party”, he said as I nodded with approval at the exceptional scenery, just as I was about to ask why the late notice, Adam thrusted a glass of wine into my hand, almost splashing it onto my neatly pressed white shirt, and said “you MUST taste my new Pinot, It couldn’t wait”.
I took a long sip and trying to hide my excitement (which was already brimming, considering the location), put on the best contemplative face I could. Must not have worked very well, since he just raised up his hand in a ‘High five’ gesture and said “
REDACTED AWESOME!”. He continued, “Exclusive for your Wine Spies Operatives, if you want it, but don’t wait too long, The Rockstar is Back!, and I can’t hold it back forever you know.”
It was indeed awesome, in fact beyond awesome – perhaps one of the nicest Pinot I’ve tasted this year. As we sat there enjoying the party, we quickly polished off the stash of his amazing Pinot Noir. While I can’t get you into the Playboy Mansion, this wine is even better. Enjoy!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
I don’t think this wine needs much of an introduction. But you get one anyway because that’s just who I am.
One of California’s most famous Pinot Noir Vineyards, the Bien Nacido is located on the south facing northern hills midway down the Santa Maria Valley. If that makes sense, continue. It is an interesting mix of old Martini Clone Pinot Vines and some of the newer designer clones. This particular wine comes from the four rows on the south side of ‘T’ block, a collection of scraggly old Martini Clone vines. 2007 only got me a total of just over a one ton – Three barrels.
An intoxicating combination of cinnamon and clove aromas. Rich flavors of plum and dark fruits. Complex and layered, expresses the best characteristics from the best year ever.
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: Santa Barbara, Bien Nacido Vineyard
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Cooperage: 16 months, 30% New Center of France, 70% one year old Allier French Oak
Bottles Produced: 816