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james laube's wine flights

All Six Kanzler Pinots Show The Vineyard's Personality

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jun 30, 2009 1:51pm ET

If you gave five different winemakers the same grapes from the same vineyard, you’d end up with five different wines (or in this case six, since one winemaker made two bottlings). And you would expect that all of the wines would achieve a consistent level of quality and offer a thread of continuity, or expression of the site, in keeping with the theory of terroir.

It didn't surprise me, then, that all six different bottlings of 2007 Pinot Noir from Kanzler Vineyard were excellent to classic. All of the wines showed wonderful fruit flavors, depth, richness and complexity built around vivid dark berry fruit. Most were deeply concentrated and well-balanced, more alike than dissimilar, give or take a nuance or two.

One wine, from Kutch, was made in a notably more elegant and understated style. Winemaker Jamie Kutch picked his Kanzler Pinot several weeks before the other vintners did, he told me, deliberately seeking a different style. The other five have more assertive, denser flavors, but share Kutch's delicacy and finesse. And of course each of the wines comes from different blocks of the 16-acre vineyard, which is on a gently sloping hill. Each of the blocks ripens at a different pace.

The biggest surprise was the step up in quality from owners Steve and Lynda Kanzler's two bottlings. Their wines have been getting progressively better under the direction of winemaker Greg Stach (who made two bottlings, including a Reserve), but for 2007, both wines ranked alongside the Kosta Browne bottling, which has been one of KB’s stars for several vintages. Landmark’s almost berry jam profile matched Kosta Browne’s ripeness. The A.P. Vin offers ripe, zesty dark fruits, in a vibrant, juicy style.

All of the wines had a pleasant earthiness, and what struck me is how well-balanced they all were, whether they were made in a bigger style or somewhat more understated. (Notes and scores for Landmark and both of the Kanzler bottlings are not yet in the Wine Spectator database).

Single-vineyard Pinots don't always have enough individual personality to merit individual bottlings, in my experience, and you often pay a premium for those wines even when they aren't that distinctive. The Kanzler Pinots, though, show the greatness of the vineyard in a great vintage.

Dave Reuther
Deerfield, Illinois —  June 30, 2009 7:40pm ET
When WS Insider came out last Wednesday, I took it along with me to a wine store I frequent. I was amazed to find Kanzler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007 on sale! Having faith in your tasting notes I made my purchase and tried a bottle that night. It had a beautiful bouquet and its wonderful complex taste was as you described. My experience with classic wines is limited, but this is the finest pinot noir I've tasted to date. The wine is labeled Sonoma Coast. Did all of the grapes come from Kanzler Vineyard? The only wine I have labeled Kanzler Vineyard is the 2006 A.P. Vin which I've enjoyed very much, and it is aging nicely.
Rick Johnson
July 1, 2009 11:58am ET
Dave, can you share the name or location of the store you found the Kanzler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007 at?
Dave Reuther
Deerfield, Illinois —  July 1, 2009 1:43pm ET
Rick, It was Binny's in Highland Park, but I believe they are out of it now. Try one of the other locations.
Jim Gallagher
Jim Gallagher —  July 1, 2009 3:05pm ET
We had the 2007 Kanzler Pinot Noir at the winemaker dinner at Pres A Vi during Pinot Days in San Francisco and it was all you have said, a wonderful wine.
Jason Gullion
July 1, 2009 5:21pm ET
Hi James, Though I haven¿t had the opportunity to taste any of Kosta Browne¿s Pinots, I have taken note of the consistently phenomenal across-the-board scores they have received from you over the past several vintages, which has led me to wonder, what exactly are they doing differently than other top Pinot producers? This blog has only reinforced this question. Since their fruit isn¿t coming from one prized estate vineyard they farm themselves, from a practical winemaking standpoint, how are they able to achieve such remarkable results (in terms of scores)--results that are often far superior to other wineries working with the same vineyard sources. Are they applying a more overt influence on the wines in the winery? Or do they know something most other wineries don¿t? Love to hear your thoughts.

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