I’ve tasted dozens of 2005 California Pinot Noirs in the past couple of weeks, and the weak seams of this vintage have become more evident.
While I’ve found many exciting 2005s to recommend, it’s apparent that not everyone had as much success as the top producers.
Many of the '05s I’ve tasted are showing a more pronounced green, herbal edge and hard tannins. The wines are also higher in acidity and have lower alcohol levels.
While this leaner style may appeal to those who think recent Pinot vintages have been overripe, I think it will be met with greater controversy, and disappointment and regret, in some instances.
For me, many of the '05s come up short on flavor, depth and texture.
I'm not alone. More Pinot producers have been critical of the '05s as they’ve seen how the young wines have evolved in the past few months--and how they compare with '03 and '04, two excellent vintages. One of the more candid critics has been Adam Lee of Siduri Winery in Sonoma. Lee makes 28 different bottlings of Pinot Noir, most of which carry vineyard designations.
Last week Lee told me that many Pinot producers “missed” 2005, and that if they had another shot at the vintage they would have made better wines. One issue is the level of ripeness. In his view, too many of the '05s display the same underripe characteristics I’ve been tasting.
In 2005, "The sugars rose but the flavors didn’t develop [in sync],” Lee said. “If there’s an Achilles Heel to 2005 it was the yields.” In hindsight, the long cool season caught winemakers off guard. He said he would have aimed to make the wines more concentrated by bleeding off juice before or during fermentation.
Lee is also more critical of the proliferation of single vineyard Pinots. Many of the vineyards may well deserve recognition in time. But in the first or second or even third year of production, many of the wines aren’t as distinctive as they should be. Consumers would be better served by having these vineyards blended into a regional or appellation wine, he said. "Not all vintages should be declared [as single vineyards]," he said. Some years the wines may merit special designation, while others they don't.
In order for a wine to carry a vineyard designation, it should be distinctive and superior in quality to the rest of its sibling wines. If it isn’t, it should be blended with other wines, with the goal of making a more complete wine.
If you're shopping for 2005s, taste carefully. There are some gems, but also some rough-hewn wines.
Robert Kim — Las Vegas, Nevada — May 15, 2007 4:37pm ET
Chris Moseley — May 15, 2007 5:19pm ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — May 15, 2007 5:26pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — May 15, 2007 5:42pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — May 15, 2007 5:44pm ET
Brad Coelho — New York City — May 15, 2007 6:15pm ET
Matthew Letson — Wilmington, NC — May 15, 2007 6:17pm ET
Jason Kadushin — Seattle, WA — May 15, 2007 7:06pm ET
Chum Lee — Mendocino, CA — May 15, 2007 8:08pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — May 15, 2007 8:10pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — May 15, 2007 8:58pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — May 15, 2007 9:18pm ET
Christopher Myers — Copley, Ohio — May 15, 2007 9:18pm ET
Don R Wagner — Illinois — May 16, 2007 12:20am ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — May 16, 2007 7:47am ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — May 16, 2007 8:11am ET
Robert Kim — Las Vegas, Nevada — May 16, 2007 10:29am ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — May 16, 2007 11:21am ET
John Osgood — New York, NY — May 16, 2007 1:43pm ET
Paul Murray — La Canada, CA — May 17, 2007 1:33pm ET
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