2010 Neely "Hidden Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
The 2010 Pinot Noir Hidden Block is juicy, expressive and gorgeous. Sweet red cherries, deeply pitched spices and menthol are some of the notes that flesh out in the glass. This is a surprisingly textured, open Pinot for the Santa Cruz Mountains. At the same time, there is plenty of weight to suggest the 2010 will drink well for a number of years.Drinking window: 2014 - 2020. Brothers Bob and Jim Varner are two of the most unassuming, humble winemakers in California. They don't need to say much. The wines take care of that themselves. These are some of the most beautiful, striking Chardonnays and Pinots readers will come across. Best of all, prices remain exceedingly fair by California standards considering the quality of what goes into the bottle...The 2010 Pinots are also outstanding. Leaf pulling is not a common practice here, so the fruit was not excessively exposed to the late season heat spikes. The Varner and Neely Pinots are fermented in steel, an unusual practice that probably explains why the wines retain so much freshness. After two months in steel, the wines spent a year in barrel followed by a year in bottle prior to being released. Like all Varner/Neely wines, the Pinots are made with indigenous yeasts and handled minimally throughout their elevage. As a reminder, the Varners make wines under three labels; Varner, Neely and Foxglove, all reviewed separately here.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The Neely 2010 Pinot Noir Hidden Block Spring Ridge Vineyard reveals sweet pomegranate, plum, forest floor and black cherry notes with the wood pushed to the background. These unfined and unfiltered wines do not see a lot of new oak -- only 25%. The wine’s broad, savory richness makes it very Burgundian in style. This high elevation, cool climate Pinot Noir should drink well for 6-10 years. These organically, dry-farmed vineyards located ten miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Cruz Mountains are managed by two brothers. I was super-impressed by their attitude as well as their statement that '90% of what we do to contribute to our quality is work in the vineyard.' All of these wines are minimally processed with indigenous yeast fermentations, hand racking, and are produced in relatively small quantities
If you've shopped K&L over the past few years, you probably know that the wines made by Bob and Jim Varner are not only among our favorites, but we think they are among the finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs made in California. The pair make the Neely label in collaboration with the Neely family, but they use fruit from the same Portola Valley vineyard--Spring Ridge--that goes into their eponymous bottlings. The Hidden Block is a three-acre, northeast-facing slope that stretches from 690 feet to 730 feet in elevation. The block is distinguished by the sedimentary rock that's near the surface, creating a wine with sweeter red fruit than the other two wines. The 2010 vintage was cool and late, with two heat spikes near harvest that were less intense in the Portola Valley than in other parts of the state, allowing the Varners to make a stunning wine once again.