Today is a share day, with me passing along a note from a winemaker, Wes Hagen at Clos Pepe, who once wanted to be a writer, and once you read this, perhaps you’ll understand why.
It’s a bit of a contrarian view on the vintage, from my perspective, but this is offered in the spirit of sharing from a die-hard Pinot lover.
“The 2006 vintage was a very long and cool climatic year here in the Sta. Rita Hills. After drought-level winter rains and a heat wave in spring that got the vines charging and provided a very uniform budbreak we settled into a long, cool year almost identical to 2005.
“The 2005s and 2006s stand in distinct defiance of the 2004 style, a short, hot vintage that produced some forward wines without the same cool-climate ‘soul’ of the 2005s, 2006s and 2007s.
“The 2004s were like swimsuit models … flashy, top-heavy, easy to lust after, but not great conversationalists. The 2005s and 2006s are like a hot librarian—the longer you spend with them the more you realize how much substance and intellect lies beneath the pretty surface—don’t let the geeky glasses and pulled-back hair fool you. She will seduce you at table—you just have to be patient to get her there.
“The two vintages (‘05 and ’06) at Clos Pepe were only about 10 degree days different from budbreak to harvest, which is a highly unusual similarity. Grapes were able to hang into October without becoming overripe, and we maintained fairly stunning levels of acidity even for those who like to take ripeness to a level that obscures the vintage. Yield was slightly smaller in 2006 than in 2005—between 1.5 and 2 tons per acre.
“In an age where concentration and extract continue to be important for some, I can see why the 2006 vintage may be marginalized by those who like their Pinot dense, black and ripe. But for wine drinkers like myself, who believe words like restraint, ageworthiness, elegance and structure are the hallmarks of great Pinot Noir, 2006 should be a momentous opportunity to purchase SRH Pinots for a 5- to 12-year rest in the cellar. As the baby fat falls off carefully crafted 2006s, what will emerge will be a mineral-laden story of cool winds, fog and a nearly perfect growing season for wines of long-lived pedigree. These wines will respect food and give great pleasure to those who will give them their time lying down. For those who love elegance, back the truck up for 2006 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. For those who prefer opaque, monster wines that stain the glass, may I humbly suggest Syrah from a warmer climate? As Moses would have said, ‘Let my Pinot go!’
Courtesy of Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe.
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — April 22, 2008 7:38pm ET
Steve Kirchner — Huntington — April 22, 2008 7:58pm ET
Michael C Thompson — Destin, FL — April 22, 2008 9:36pm ET
Dr Robert C Portnoy — Houston, TX — April 22, 2008 9:41pm ET
Michael Hatch — Pasadena, CA — April 23, 2008 12:50am ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — April 23, 2008 9:42am ET
Wes Sircable — Fullerton, CA — May 2, 2008 4:52am ET
David Peters — Mission Viejo, CA — May 8, 2008 4:22pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — May 8, 2008 5:19pm ET
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