The first of two Pinots I picked up at MacPhail’s cellar door this week. While in Sonoma, I’ve been especially curious to explore the various AVAs producing Pinot, so different is it in style from French, Australian and Kiwi wines. I was aware of a reputation for big, “dry red” Pinots from the area, and it’s true that most of the Pinots I’ve tasted have been larger in scale. Yet they often show excellent varietal character in terms of flavour, and their scale and luxe presents its own appeal. I’m open to the style.
This is a particularly plush example. As such, it shares something with some older school Central Otago Pinots, though without their, at times, highly extracted structure. I was a little concerned when I opened this, as it showed a fair bit of stink initially. This, however, blew off quickly, leaving behind a clean wine. First impressions are of plush red berry fruit. There’s no mistaking this for anything other than Pinot, though, as it presents a distinctive sappiness along with its fruit, as well as sweet, fragranced undergrowth. That said, it never wavers from its rich, fruit forward nature. The only note that distracts here is a hint of overripeness. I understand there was a very hot period towards harvest in 2010 that may account for this influence.
The palate is predictably full and rich. On entry, soft and immediate, moving to a fleshy middle palate that fills the mouth with red fruits. Acid is only moderately bright, giving a broadness to the mid-palate that some may dislike; soft tannins don’t do much to give the wine shape either. This, though, is a lush style and, for me, lower acid is a valid expression of this fruit; a more highly acidified wine may well have seemed forced. As a drink now style, I like the palate’s soft, supple feel. Still present is that slightly overripe fruit note which detracts from an otherwise correct, straightforward pinot flavour profile. The line is even, with no dips or surges.
Is it great Pinot? Not in any conventional sense, but at the same time it’s a pleasure to find a Pinot made in this style that isn’t either cheap or lacking in character. A fruit bomb for sure, and a bloody good one.
MacPhail Family Wines