Sunday, July 13, 2008

2005 Neely Pinot Noir, "Holly's Cuvee"

Bob and Jim Varner make some of the best Chardonnay in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That's not just my view; Robert Parker has rated several vintages in the 90-95 range. They also grow Pinot Noir and used to grow a small amount of Gewurztraminer, which they sold to Bargetto, but have now grafted over to Pinot Noir.

Varner grow their Chardonnay in three "blocks", named Bee, Home and Ampitheater. The fruit is vinted separately and three bottlings are offered. In 2002 they added a fourth bottling with a new label; Neely, in recognition of the vineyard's owner, Dr. Kirk Neely. The Neely Chardonnay is a blend of barrels from the three blocks.

In 2005 the Neely Chardonnay was joined by a Pinot Noir. Like the Chardonnay it's a blend of two different blocks, named Hidden and Picnic.

The 2005 Neely Pinot Noir is pleasant enough. The nose is light but pretty, showing cherries and some oak. On the palate it's smooth; cherries and cranberries and a little spice. Overall it's a very nice, well made $20-$25 wine.

Unfortunately it's not a $20 wine. It goes for $35-$40, and that's the problem; it simply dosn't have enough going on to justify the tag. For the price of a Neely you could get a Pinot from Thomas Fogarty, McHenry, Woodside or Mount Eden - and probably have enough change left over for a bottle of Varner's other label, the excellent Foxglove Chardonnay.


Wes said...

*I believe they were also the source for the Cronin Gewurztraminer.

**The '04 Woodside PN is $36, so same price, but far superior. (My #2 @ Pinot Paradise.)