The International Wine Report Scores the 2012 releases
The International Wine Report looks at “balance” in California and has some great things to say about the 2012 wines. You can see the full list of reviews here.
The “Balance” in California
This report is focused around a handful of winemakers from Sonoma and the Central Coast. These producers are making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a different style than what many of us have become accustomed to from these varietals in California. In recent years, California has earned a reputation from consumers for producing modern style, bigger, higher alcohol, oak influenced versions of these varietals and moving away from the traditional, terroir and climate driven methods that really make them special.
Many of the producers featured in this report are members of In Pursuit of Balance (IPOB). This organization was started by Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards, and well known Sommelier and winemaker Rajat Parr. IPOB is built around producers who are dedicated to making these traditional, balanced styles, many using natural farming with less human manipulation and allowing nature to make a difference.
Below you will find our report consisting of in-depth tasting notes highlighting these producers and their current wines. Each producer’s style is certainly unique, but all of the wines showed us how balanced and well made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from these Coastal influenced areas of California can be. Tasting these wines gave us a new excitement about these varietals in California. Much like it was after the Judgment of Paris, these wines should prove to the world that some of the purest examples of these varietals can still be found in California.
Chanin, Pinot Noir ‘La Rinconada Vineyard’ 2012 / 94 Points
This stunning 2012 Pinot Noir from Chanin comes from the La Rinconda vineyard, which located next to the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and has the same owners and farmers. It is aged 15 months in 25% new French oak and offers wonderful vibrant aromas of fresh blackberry, wild cherries, raspberry, vanilla bean, pepper, exotic spices and a hint of earthy minerals and roasted coffee. It has fantastic fruit on the front end and lots of spice on the mid-palate, I also love the laser like focus, balance and complexity that this wine brings. It all wraps up with a 60 plus second finish. This wine is extremely polished, well structured and already showing beautifully. An absolutely gorgeous world-class Pinot Noir from Gavin Chanin that you can approach now or watch evolve for the next 15 years. (Best 2014-2030)
Chanin, Chardonnay ‘Los Alamos Vineyard’ 2012 / 91 Points
This Chardonnay comes from the Los Alamos Vineyard, a high elevation site, containing soils which change from typical Los Alamos sand to more alluvial, shale infused soils. The wine itself brings lovely aromas of honeysuckle, papaya, pineapple, lemon zest, apple, clove, straw and spring flowers. It’s fresh and lively with a bright finish. Drink it now or over the next few years. (Best 2014-2021)
Chanin, Chardonnay ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ 2012 / 93 Points
This is a stunning Chardonnay from Gavin Chanin, which comes from 39-year-old vines on the classic Santa Maria bench plantings of the famed Bien Nacido vineyard. The wine itself displays notes of Bosc pear, lemon oil, almonds, vanilla, spices and smoky minerals. It has a gorgeous creamy texture, yet remains crisp with live acidity all the way through the fresh, clean finish. This is almost impossible to resist now, but it should also continue to show well for years to come. (Best 2014-2022)
Chanin, Chardonnay ‘Stanford & Benedict Vineyard’ 2012 / 94+ Points
This Chardonnay is sourced from the historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard planted in 1969 in the cool climate of the Santa Rita Hills. The vineyard is composed of diatomaceous earth and chert and does not require a lot of watering, resulting in natural low yielding vines. The 2012 Chardonnay is absolutely thrilling, offering pretty aromas of pineapple, freshly sliced apple, herbs, flinty mineral, fennel seed and white florals all coming together beautifully in the glass. It’s pure and focused with wonderful freshness and a creamy mouth coating texture. Everything is all wrapped up with a gorgeous mineral driven finish that lingers on. The wine was aged for 14 months on the lees and 16 months before being bottled unfiltered. A fantastic wine from Gavin Chanin that should continue to show well for almost another decade. (Best 2014-2022)