2005 Sea Smoke "Southing" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
The most balanced of Sea Smoke’s three new Pinots, Southing was aged in about two-thirds new oak, which gives rich caramel, toasted coconut and exotic spice notes to the ripe fruit flavors. The wine explodes with cherries, raspberries, mulberries and even chocolate mint, finishing long and spicy, and leaving the impression of wholesomeness and completeness. Now showing its peak of youthful vivacity, this should develop for an additional six years.
Spicy, peppery wild berry aromas carry over to the palate, with firm tannins. Tight and compact, this is an austere style that's rich and full-bodied, with enough depth and complexity to merit short-term cellaring.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Dark red. Zesty raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by cinnamon, black cardamom and violet. The perfume built with air, gaining depth and power. Lush kirsch and blackcurrant flavors seem vaguely Syrah-like, but there's excellent mineral tang keeping things in check. Finishes with impressively sweet red fruit flavors, supple tannins and striking persistence.
Allen Meadows - Burghound
This is also notably ripe with an attractive breadth of spice and dark and blue berry fruit aromas including cola and coffee that complement the concentrated flavors blessed with ample dry extract and a nicely intense if somewhat edgy and slightly warm finish that is not at present as well integrated as it might be. There is clearly good material here but the youthful awkwardness has yet to pass.
Reminds of fine Chambolle Musigny. Violets, berry/cherry fruit, smoky oak, racy acidity, round, silky tannins. 14.7% alcohol, yet no perceptible heat. If only more California Pinot Noirs were so immediately rewarding, yet elegant and ageworthy. 18/20 points. (LM)