2009 Calera "Jensen" Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2009 Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard is the biggest and richest of the 2009s. It boasts stunning depth in its dark fruit, licorice, spices and sweet balsamic notes. Layers of fruit totally saturate the palate as this utterly majestic Pinot opens up in the glass. The sheer depth and nuance of the Jensen is simply breathtaking. Readers will have to be patient, as the Jensen is very much built for the cellar. It is an American classic to savor and enjoy to age 20 and perhaps beyond. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029. Readers who want to experience the finest Pinot Noirs being made in California should put Calera at or near the top of their lists. The 2009s are simply breathtaking in their beauty. I am not sure why I was so blown away by the estate’s 2009s, as the entry-level 2009 Central Coast Pinot I reviewed last year provided more than enough clues as to the quality of the rest of the lineup. Based on that wine, I should have known what to expect. Congratulations to proprietor Josh Jensen and his entire team on these magnificent, utterly compelling wines. Organic farming, native fermentations and minimal racking are some of the choices that inform the Calera wines. (AG)
The 2009 Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard is a gorgeous wine for drinking now, as the aromatics are just beginning to show the first signs of complexity. Sweet tobacco, mint, cedar, herbs and dried cherries flesh out in ample, deeply expressive Pinot endowed with real depth. The 2009 should continue to drink well for another 10-15 years. Today, the 2009 is a bit shy relative to how it showed a few years ago, and may be going through an awkward phase as it makes the transition from a young Pinot to a more middle-aged wine. (AG)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright ruby-red. A heady bouquet presents fresh red and dark fruits, candied lavender and Asian spices. Silky, dense and gently sweet, with intense black raspberry and cherry flavors complicated by cola and spicecake nuances. A jolt of blood orange adds lift and cut to the sweet, extremely persistent finish featuring darker berry and anise notes. (JR)
Wine & Spirits
Josh Jensen’s remote mountain estate is surrounded by dry chaparral and it’s tempting to read its imprint in this wine’s exotic, garrigue-like aromas of lavender, pine and dried sage. The Jensen block, planted in 1975, has a wider range of exposures than Calera’s two other original blocks, Selleck and Reed. At first this wine’s fruit seems almost brambly, perhaps due to the concentrated ripeness of the south-facing components, but it’s girded by distinctly stern tannins; the vineyard’s high-elevation, its limestone soils and, likely, Jensen’s commitment to whole-cluster fermentation all contribute to that structural integrity. With a day of air, the wine relaxes, its beguiling fragrance and satiny fruit leaning back on cool minerality. It’s a Pinot Noir for the long haul, to open in ten years with a Berkshire pork chop grilled with rosemary springs.
Allen Meadows - Burghound
A pleasingly well-layered, spicy and fresh nose offers up aromas of primarily mixed red berries and a background note of ripe plum. There is good verve to the medium-bodied flavors that possess an attractive mouth feel that is aided by the velvety texture of the tannins. This delicious effort is presently on the reserved side, in fact there is even a mild hint of austerity on the firm, balanced and lingering finish. This is less accessible than certain other wines in the range and will definitely require medium-term cellaring to be at its best.
In its youth, this tastes rich and candied, like a cherry, vanilla and buttercream pastry. It’s delicious, savory and fun, a very easy wine to drink with a great steak or chop. With its delicate texture, it should probably last quite a few years, without necessarily gaining in complexity.
Calera's Jensen vineyard is four hillside blocks of vines planted in 1975 on Mt. Harlan, which is east of the Monterey Bay at an elevation of 2000 feet. In a typical fine vintage such as this one, it produces about 1.5 tons of small berried grapes per acre which produce a particularly well-structured and age-worthy wine. From the winemaker: "The 2009 Jensen possesses a deep, rich garnet hue. Luscious aromas of cranberry, violets, granite, turmeric and raspberry torte mix with an alluring bouquet of peppery nutmeg and black cherry. This fascinating wine offers flavors of baking spice, ripe strawberries, rhubarb pie, chalky minerality and sweet berry wrapped around a juicy, elegant core of fine grained tannins, then trails off to a long, pleasurable finish."