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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A California Pinot Saves the Day

Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard 2004

Thomas Matthews
Posted: October 21, 2009

We were excited to see Memphis, a new musical on Broadway, and decided to have dinner beforehand. We chose a fine-dining place, not a pre-theater food mill, so explained very carefully to the staff that we had to leave at 7:35, and they assured us that would work. Unfortunately, the kitchen got backed up, and our main courses came out at 7:32, creating anxiety and rather spoiling the meal.

Fortunately, the wine saved the day. Our friends love Marcassin Pinot Noir, and the restaurant offered several of the tiny-production bottlings. We chose the 2004 Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard ($290 on the list) from California's Sonoma Coast. It had an amazing combination of intensity and elegance. The texture was lithe and polished, dancing across the palate; the flavors were explosive, mingling black cherry, spice, mineral, coffee and earth. I rated it 94 points, non-blind. Sipping it, enjoying its complexity and savoring its long finish took the edge off our wait.

The show was extraordinary, a moving and lively story of music, love and race set in 1950s Memphis. Highly recommended.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review and check the current auction price for Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard 2004 (91, $90 on release).

• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values in California Pinot Noir.

Steven Glazer
Orinda —  October 23, 2009 10:08am ET
I don't doubt that the wine was good but at about $70 a glass (for a generous pour), it takes extraordinary will and a deep pocketbook to truly enjoy that experience.
Terrance Rooney
San Francisco, CA —  October 23, 2009 11:26am ET
I agree. Who was paying the tab, Thomas Matthews personally or the Wine Spectator?

Colin Haggerty
La Jolla, California —  October 24, 2009 10:32pm ET
Glad to see that the recession hasn't hit everyone. For most, $290 for a California Pinot is just a touch on the steep side.
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  October 25, 2009 4:13pm ET
Restaurants stock wines that sell for hundreds -- even thousands -- of dollars because diners buy them. Some customers don't have to worry about price, others decide to splurge on something special. To each his own judgment of value.

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