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04.21.2004

2001 Campion Pinot Noir, Edna Valley

It's always fun to experience infrequently perceived flavors and aromas. Wine is full of surprises and Campion has provided an opportunity to experience and use one of the myriad lovely adjectives that exist for describing the scents of wine: horsey.

It is fitting that Campion provides us this opportunity. Or perhaps it's better to say that it is perfectly in keeping with Campion's brand that their wines evoke scents that lean towards the rustic. Campion is focused on a single varietal, Pinot Noir, and more specifically expressing the essence of their vineyard terrior through that varietal. As the quote on their home page from winemaker Larry Brooks so tellingly states:

"If wines are the lenses through which we view the place and time of their creation, then Pinot is the most optically true"

Larry has worked in Napa valley for over 25 years helping others make wine, including Acacia, Echelon Chalone Estate, Tudor, Morrow Bay Vineyards, and Trefethen, and has now decided to make wine that is all his own. His vision is about using Pinot Noir as a canvas to allow soil, climate, and simple winemaking techniques to express themselves. Larry is based in San Luis Obispo but sources his grapes from Carneros and Sonoma among other locales, including this wine which is from closer to home in the Edna Valley, just outside of San Luis Obispo.

Larry is also noteworthy for his partnership with Leo McCloskey, founder of Enologix, a wine consulting company which caused quite a stir in the last couple of years with its entry into the wine world claiming it could predict what score a wine would receive from institutions like Wine Spectator (and therefore help winemakers make wines that would score higher). See this Wired Magazine article for more details.

Regardless of what anyone things about Enologix technology and what it says about or means for winemaking, it is clear that Larry is an accomplished winemaker and continues to produce excellent wines that express the land with all the rustic flavors he intends -- with or without the help of newfangled technologies.

Tasting Notes:
Out of the bottle and for hours afterwards this cinnabar colored wine smells like horse. Yep, not farmyard or dirt, though it has some elements of both, but like the sweating frothy back of a well run horse. This can be a bit alarming, especially for those who like their Pinots to smell like rasberries, but if you embrace it, and move past, you are in for a wine with a unique and strong personality. In addition to the aforementioned aromas, you will also get some tar, and a little cherry as you tip back the glass. In your mouth, the wine is something else entirely -- tart rasberry and subdued black cherry flavors mixed with with floral and dark tea and cedar elements. The finish is long with a slight hint of aromatic mint or eucalyptus.

Food Pairing:
This wine with its woody and earthy flavors would be a perfect accompaniment to the strongly flavored prosciutto stuffed pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce.

Overall Score: 9

How much?: $29

I got this wine through Porthos.

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