Log In / Join Now

what we're drinking now

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.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.