Wine can be hardier than we think. I proved that with a bottle of Pinot Noir one recent weekend.
Everyone knows better than to leave wine in the car in hot weather, but, well, sometimes we forget. My husband and I had planned a two-day trip, and I packed a bottle in a cooler with some ice packs to take that night to a BYO restaurant. But we changed our dinner plans, and the next day temperatures unexpectedly surpassed 90°. We came back to our car to find it baking in the sun, and the ice almost entirely melted in the cooler. When I opened it, the inside was warm, and I was kicking myself because it was my last bottle of the 2004 MacPhail Toulouse Vineyard (bought from the winery mailing list).
I've absolutely loved this Pinot, from Mendocino County, in the past, and with less than 500 cases made, it wasn't likely I'd find any more at this point. So I wasn't giving up. When we got home, I cooled off the Pinot in the fridge. Opening it was scary—wine had clearly risen about mid-way up the cork. But we discovered to great relief that it was still fresh and beautifully balanced, with a supple texture, long finish and all the rich, ripe cherry and berry fruit I remember from the past. 94 points, non-blind. Not a trace of damage. Not that I'm going to try that again.
WineSpectator.com members: Get the original blind-tasting review for MacPhail Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Toulouse Vineyard 2004 (94, $37)