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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

A Great California Red with the Boss

El Molino Pinot Noir Rutherford 2005

James Suckling
Posted: May 22, 2009

I drank a bottle of El Molino Pinot Noir 2005 with Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken the other night during a tête-à-tête at Estiatorios Milos restaurant in New York. First, if you haven't been to Milos, you are missing out. I have been to both restaurants, one in Montreal and the other in Manhattan. The quality of the fish is amazing, with much of it flown from the Mediterranean a few times a week. Plus, the Greek cuisine is simple, flavorful and delicious. The fish comes with grilled vegetables and deep-fried feta cheese.

I was thinking that we had to drink a white, if we were going to have fish. I looked at the Greek section and gave it an immediate pass. I have had dozens of Greek wines while on Greece's island of Mikonos, and I have yet to find a serious white that I like. So I was looking at the list of non-Greek whites, and I saw the El Molino Chardonnay from Napa Valley's Rutherford appellation. Marvin dug the wine, but said that the "Pinot is even better, so let's order that." Can't argue with the boss!

We did, and we were megahappy. The Pinot first showed a lot of raisiny, almost pruny character on the nose and palate. It was full-bodied, with fairly chewy tannins and a chunky palate. But the wine evolved beautifully in the glass. In fact, it seemed to change every 10 minutes or so. Within 30 minutes of being poured it changed from dried dark fruit to strawberry and raspberry with a floral undertone. And the palate was subtly fruity and refined—a major metamorphosis. This was an outstanding bottle: 93 points, non-blind. It went perfectly with my grilled halibut, and Marvin seemed to like it with his Dover sole. White wine and fish? Who needs that all the time?

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for El Molino Pinot Noir Rutherford 2005 (88, $55)

• Plus, get more scores and tasting notes for recently rated California Pinot Noirs, along with our quick list of Top Values in California Pinot Noir.

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