2007 Neely "Picnic Block" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir (Elsewhere $40)

SKU #1062817

This wine comes from the organically-tended Spring Ridge Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a two-acre planting on an east-facing slope at about 600 feet above sea level. The site is dry-farmed, which makes for an inredible earth-driven Pinot with all of the Santa Cruz character you want and the balance, texture and deliciousness you'd expect from a wine made by Bob and Jim Varner.

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Price: $29.99
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Staff Image By: Kyle Kurani | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/28/2011 | Send Email
The Varner brothers really do make some fantastic wine. Rich and exotic, but well balance, the Picnic Block pinot is an example of well made California Pinot.

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/23/2011 | Send Email
We here at K&L have maintained for quite sometime that the Varner brothers, Jim & Bob, make some of the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in California. This small production winery makes a few of the most recognizable labels in our store: Foxglove, Spring Ridge and Varner. Jim & Bob also make a label called Neely, in conjunction with the family of the same name who own the Spring Ridge Vineyard. Originally planted in 1980 near Portola Valley, this vineyard has five separate blocks and acts as the Estate vineyard to the Varner and Neely labels. The Picnic Block bottling is perfect for those that like a bit more heft and weight to their Pinots. Bold aromatics of spice cake, dates, mocha and tangy cranberry lead to juicy, ripe fruit with a slightly candied edge. The layered red fruit flavors build upon a savory core, and the wine finishes with bold flavors of mushroom and evergreen. This perfectly shows what a riper vintage, and vineyard block, can do in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.

Additional Information:


Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some RhĂ´ne varietals prosper as well.