Friday, December 30, 2011

Updated Review: **** $$$ Pessagno Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, Monterey County, CA, 2007

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By way of background: Pessagno makes quite a wide range of pinot noirs.  This one is the Pessagno Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, estate grown in the Lucia Highlands Vineyard in the Monterey County AVA in California.  For the 2007 vintage, it is finished at 14.6% alcohol, within the range of many California pinot noirs. 

Original tasting notes, January, 2010: 

In the glass: Pessagno Santa Lucia Pinot Noir shows as deep dusty red in the glass, moving to almost opaque in the center, somewhat surprising for pinot noir.

On the nose: Poured cool without a decant and swirled vigorously, the wine throws a big, deep, sweet, inky aroma of candied black cherry.

On the palate: The first element on the palate is a thick, almost oily, but also smooth, gritty tannin-driven fruit that washes across your tongue.  It follows by slowly releasing big gobs of fruit flavors into your mouth and cheeks.  These include fully ripe, sweet blackberries, but some semi-sweet cocoa and cherries too.  Much to inspect and contemplate. 

And the finish: Through the smooth, strong tannins, new waves of flavor follow the sip into the horizon... solid earthy fruits, some oak dust, very gentle acids. Yum.

In summary: Overall, deep, rich, balanced, layered, complex and thoroughly enjoyable experience.  Four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.   I believe this has the stuffing for even more balance and complexity with age - not that it lacks much now.  Awesome showing for an American pinot noir, and my favorite pinot noir in a long time.  Excellent value at a moderate price point; unusual because pinot noirs seldom hit the Spirit of Wine good value lists.

Wine Enthusiast was indeed enthusiastic about this as well, awarding 94 points, with this report: "It's hard to believe the price on this wonderful Pinot Noir. It's such a beauty. Ripe, rich and opulent, it shows powerful flavors of cherries, raspberries, red currants, anise, cocoa and sandalwood, yet remains elegant and delicate through the long, spicy finish. Just terrific. Scoop this one up while you can."

Following three-day decant by vacuum in partially-opened bottle:  Consistent aroma, palate, finish and rating.  

Updated review, two years later,  December, 2011:  Consistent color.  Thick black cherry remains on the nose, with some motor oil undertones.  The viscous oils and deep fruits still wash across your tongue as you sip, with the acids just tickling the points of your tongue.  Not improved over two years ago, but not diminished either.  Ready to drink now at four years from vintage date.
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