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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

An Impressive Pair of 2003 California Pinots

Siduri and Loring's Clos Pepe Vineyard bottlings

James Laube
Posted: August 26, 2009

I was a big fan of the 2003 Pinot Noirs from the Santa Rita Hills, in California's Santa Barbara County, and bought more wines from that appellation in 2003 than ever before. I have been happily rewarded, time and again, by how well these wines have aged. They have held onto their fruit and show the depth, concentration and structure for even more development. Initially, I thought that '03s such as those from the Clos Pepe Vineyard would be good bets to age 10 to 15 years, and I’m still convinced of that.

This time I uncorked two from Clos Pepe. The 2003 Siduri is amazingly rich, layered, deep and elegant. It shows off supple black cherry and blueberry fruit, spice and mineral, and it drank well the entire evening. I liked the Siduri more now than on release, with a 95-point rating, non-blind.

The 2003 Loring offered a fresh, vibrant mix of ripe, zesty blackberry fruit that pushes toward balsamic blackberry then touches on syrupy, yet it maintains that delicate balance between ripe, solid and eccentric. The synthetic cork has held well. I hadn’t intended to age this wine this long because of the closure (synthetics are not good bets for aging more than a few years). But this one held up and served the wine well. I liked the Loring a little less than on release, giving it 88 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind tasting reviews for:
Siduri Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Clos Pepe Vineyard 2003 (93, $52) and Loring Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Clos Pepe Vineyard 2003 (92, $46).

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

Gary Stoyan
Sherman Oaks, CA —  August 26, 2009 6:49am ET
Glad to see that your original "Drink to" window of 2008 for the Siduri was on the cautious side, as I ofen times end up overaging some wines. What's your take on the aging of the 2004/2005 and 2007 Santa Barbara pinots?
Brian Loring
Lompoc, CA —  August 26, 2009 11:00pm ET

Glad the synthetic held up. Not all of them have in our 2002s and 2003s. We continue to ask people to contact us for a refund if they open any 2002s or 2003s that are now oxidized.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  August 28, 2009 2:00pm ET
Gary, I'm still a drink 'em young proponent. But I have been very pleasantly impressed by how some of the more recent SB vintages of Pinot have aged. If you drink them early you won't miss the fruit, so I'm still in the drink within six or so years school.

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