NoCo Pinot Noir, 2010 California, Chalone

“One of these things is not like the others…”

“one of these things just doesn’t belong…”

“…can you tell me which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish my song?”

Doesn’t everyone remember that song from Sesame Street?  As a child of the 80’s, I often find myself spontaneously remembering songs from Sesame Street and parroting them out at random times.  (exhibit B: “one!  two!…. AH-AH-AH!!”)  The only KEY to this time is that this wine definitely DOES BELONG!  But it’s not like the others!  And by others, I mean so many other California Pinot Noirs out there in the market.  And for this, I applaud it.  And love it.

So the NoCo label is owned by two hella’ cool dudes that also own LIOCO wines.  I’ve written about their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (remains gorgeous with every vintage) and their microscopically produced (and alas- not to be made again) Pinot Blanc in past posts.  Without going in to too much detail, they focus on site-specific, non-interventionalist winemaking- AKA, they like to let the grapes be themselves and reflect from whence they come, rather than trying to make them into something else.  You could also call that terroir, if you wanted to be fancy.

Back to my point; here’s why I like this wine, in a nutshell: it’s unique AND delicious!  It’s bright, radiant and really pops more than most Cali Pinots I taste in an average week, or month.  It is sort of a palate/mind-expander.  This is crucial, in my opinion, if you’re gonna be a wine nerd.  You have to periodically taste things that stretch and expand your palate’s ability to recognize flavors.  I believe there’s some science behind that, actually.  Remember how when you were a kid you hated beets? (or insert some other food you hated as a kid).  And then one day you tried them when you were in your 20’s and you realized they were delicious?  It’s because your taste buds mature, and become more responsive to different tastes as you get older.  Same is true of wine.  When you first start drinking reds, you might find too much tannin to be, literally, offensive to your taste buds.  But just keep drinkin’, folks.  As your buds get used to tannins, they won’t offend as much.  Then you’ll start to like them.  Of course, it’s always possible that you just don’t like some things, and never will- but the important thing is to keep trying!  Plus, it’s fun.

But let’s move back to the wine itself.  It has a very bright, tangy and pronounced palate of pomegranate, redcurrant, sour cherry, black tea, five spice, rhubarb, orange peel, and a touch of flintiness and cherry pits.  Finishes with a push of minerality, a bit of soft fruit, girly flowers, and a pleasant ZING of acid- it’s low in alcohol at just 13.5%.  It’s a truly fantastic representation of the Chalone AVA- which is a unique little spot.  High in elevation, with soil rich with limestone and granite, the grapey grapes come of age in low humidity and intense bouts of unfiltered sunlight.  This really comes across in this wine, because there is a definitive quality of purity and unrestrained clarity in this juice.  I would even go so far as to say this wine is verging on the precipice of genius, and at the forefront of what it means to make wine and appreciate wine.  Feel free to disagree with me; but I gave that a lot of thought and I stand by it.

This juice is currently by the glass at Cellar, or you can stop in and buy a bottle to take home for $21.  I also heard Noah over at Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Lexington is holding onto some, if you’re from that side of town.  Oh, and this wine also got 89 Points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar!  Woop woop!  Get you some!

Oh and go Gamecocks.  or whatever.  I’m over it.

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