Thursday, April 10, 2008

New names to watch

In my previous post I mentioned that I'd attended a SCMWA trade tasting on Monday. Being trade only it wasn't anywhere near as busy as Pinot Paradise, but with over 30 wineries participating (some pouring 5 or more wines) and constantly switching between varietals it was way harder. If anything my notes are worse than last time, and I doubt that I visited more than maybe half of the participants. So what I have are more impressions than anything else.

New names that stood out for me at Pinot Paradise were Heart o' the Mountain and Black Ridge. Both were at this event too; Heart o' the Mountain are exclusively Pinot producers and were pouring the same vintage as last time, so nothing new to report there. It's good stuff. Check it out.

Black Ridge has the potential to be a much larger outfit. They have something like 20 acres planted with at least as many different clones, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Pinot Gris. The Pinot Noir is only the second vintage from those vines (the first was not commercially available) but is excellent - good rich fruit and plenty of complexity; not badly priced at $39. They were also pouring an Estate Viognier ($25) - not a common varietal in these parts. I fully expected to find a hint of residual sugar, and on the palate it was extremely fruity, but the finish was bone dry. A very nice wine indeed. It turns out that the winemaker is in fact Testarossa's Bill Brosseau, who knows a thing or two about Pinot Noir in particular.

Another little winery that I've been banging the drum for recently is Vidovich Vineyards. They are based up on Monte Bello Road, close to Ridge and Naumann. They produce a single Cabernet Sauvignon called "Montebello Road" that's a terrific value at $20. I swear that if it said Napa on the label they would be charging 3 times as much. Picchetti has been making a Cabernet with fruit from the same vineyard that retails for $45.

They were pouring the just released 2003 vintage, which seemed just as good as the 2002 that I've been quaffing by the case. Until now it was only available at certain restaurants and from Unwined in San Jose, but it appears that they have finally lined up a distributor, so I would expect it to be more readily available, and for the price to rise as more people discover it.