2008 Neely "Hidden Block- Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir (Previously $40)

SKU #1080440 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The three Pinot Noirs I tasted under the Neely label all had advanced medium garnet colors as well as complex aromatics of pomegranate, apple skins, herbs and earth. My favorite is Neely’s 2008 Pinot Noir Hidden Block Spring Ridge Vineyard, which possesses sweeter fruit, more complexity and a Cote de Beaune-like red fruit character intermixed with spice and earth. Readers should not forget about the Varner Chardonnays I reviewed in issue #190, the 2008 Amphitheater Block, 2008 Home Block and 2008 Bee Block, all among the finest Chardonnays made in California in this vintage.  (2/2011)

Allen Meadows - Burghound

 An attractively layered nose of pretty violet and plum aromas slides gracefully into the round, delicious and suave middle weight flavors that possess mid-palate concentration as well as good if not truly special finishing depth and length. There is a slight trace of backend warmth but it's not really enough to detract from the overall appeal of this easy-to-like effort.  (1/2012)

K&L Notes

Neely is a label from Bob and Jim Varner, whose namesake label is one of K&L's favorites. The Varners' wines deftly illustrate that the Santa Cruz Mountains are capable of producing Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are on the short list of the finest in California. The grapes are sourced from individual parcels of the Spring Ridge Vineyard, which the Varners planted in Portola Valley in the early 1980s. The wines are crafted in a style which is classic and elegant yet substantial and age-worthy.


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Varietal:

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.
Country:

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.
Sub-Region:

California

- 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.
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 Rhône varietals prosper as well.