The Theory of Relativity as it Relates to California Pinot Noir: How Much is 'Best Ever' Worth to You?
Blame it on the Rain. The current issue of Wine Spectator has the phrase "BEST EVER California Pinot Noir" splashed across the front page. The editors are referring not only to Sonoma, but as far north as Anderson Valley in Mendocino County and as close to home as Santa Barbara. The reason? Near perfect weather that yielded a crop of gorgeous grapes.
Whether this reverence for the ideal grape growing conditions in 2007 is fantastic or a taunting temptation depends on the depth of your pocketbook. Many are going for $40 to $80. For those who want to taste this "best ever" vintage but don't have an extra Ulysses S. Grant to spare, there are still plenty of deals to be had. Bigger name regions such as the Russian River Valley tend to be pricier (if you can even get the wine, the $50 to $60 2007 vintage from Pali Wine are
already sold out still available in limited supply in the tasting room). But if you stick to regions like Mendocino and Monterey counties, you can still find some deals. Type "2007 California Pinot" into the K&L Wine Merchants search engine and dozens will pop up under $20, many from those two regions.
Winery tasting rooms are another option, if you can find any willing to pour their beloved 2007s for a few bucks. Babcock Winery north of Santa Barbara is pouring its 2007 Pinot alongside the 2008 for $10 in the tasting room while supplies last (for that price, you'll get 6 to 8 pours of various wines).
If you happen to be in Monterey for some dolmas over Memorial Day weekend, Paraiso Vineyards, Pessagano Winery and Carmel Road are all pouring tastings of their 2007 (note: Carmel Road's tasting rooms is by appointment only). You can also pick up some bargain bottles for later while you are there. Pariaso Vineyards has their 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir available in the tasting room for $25; Pessagano is selling their 2007 Central Avenue Vineyard Pinot Noir for $21.
Closer to home, Pourtal, the pour-yourself-an-ounce wine bar in Santa Monica, will be offering Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara 2007 vintage as part of its Pinot Noir tastings during the month of October. Tastes of various Pinots from around the globe will begin at $2.75 an ounce (or pick up a bottle of the Au Bon Climat for $20 at K&L).
And if the 2007s run out before you get a chance to taste, there is always the 2008 vintage, dubbed a "difficult" vintage by Wine Spectator that was plagued by frost and a short growing season. Excellent news for some of us, as prices will surely plummet.