That Bill Smith ended up making Sonoma Coast Pinot always surprised me, since Smith founded La Jota Wine Co on Napa’s Howell Mountain and made gutsy Cabernets and racy Zinfandels for two decades. But with W.H. Smith, he decided to stake a claim in Sonoma on the true coast, sourcing grapes from the appropriately named Maritime Vineyard. His 2003 Pinot from that site continues to wow me.
When I wrote about the 2003 Pinots (back in 2005), I noted that I had more fun tasting Pinot Noirs that year than ever before. The wines from this vintage continue to show youthful, vibrant flavors, lively acidity, depth, concentration, length and vitality. In short, about all one could ask for from any wine. The Maritime Vineyard currently has all those traits, along with a finish of subtle floral notes and an enticing earthiness, plus the kind of finesse that separates great wines from sensational ones. 97 points on release and still holding.
I bought six bottles of the W.H. Smith Maritime Vineyard and am now down to my last one or two. But every bottle of the ’03 Maritime has left me stunned by how good it is. This wine made the Top 100 of 2005, and this winery made Wine Spectator’s list of the Top 30 California Pinot producers.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for W.H. Smith Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Maritime Vineyard 2003 (97, $45, Top 100 of 2005: rank 15).
Plus, get our quick list of Top Values in California Pinot Noir.