So you think you know a varietal. You've had it hundreds of times in its various and varied incarnations. Old World. New World. East Coast. West Coast. Avant Garde New World. Die Hard Puritan Old World. Super Snobby European Creme De La Creme. You name it, I've had it when it comes to Pinot Noir. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but I've definitely tasted my fair share of Pinots, from Burgundy to Beaverville, Oregon. I pretty much thought I knew what they taste like.
But then along comes a wine that completely redefines the boundaries and standards that I had set in my mind for what was possible with this grape.
Adrian Fog is definitely what you would call a "cult" California producer. While not quite to the point where we could call them the "Turley" of Pinot producers, they have a quiet cachet among those who appreciate the varietal. Owners Stewart Dorman and Jane Farrell cultivate their image (and perhaps their grapes as well) with a care towards reinforcing a magical aura:
"Adrian Fog was born from the idea that Pinot Noir should have a sense of place and that the vineyard is the birthplace of great wine. All of our vineyards are selected for their individuality.
By hand selecting cool climate fruit from small vineyards, Adrian Fog is able to maintain the unique signature and personality of the vineyard. Each vineyard is selected by considering the effect of coastal fog patterns, clonel differences, age and vine orientation to the sun. Picking, fermentation and barrel ageing are done by keeping all clones and blocks separately. By this madness, we are able to learn and appreciate each wine's nuances and style intimately. Our bottlings are determined by the wine's individuality, our largest bottling is 200 cases and the smallest is 23 cases. Picking, racking, and bottling are scheduled as close to the night of the full moon as possible. We have found that she (Adrian Fog) likes and enjoys the effects of the lunar cycle. We encourage you to drink Adrian Fog on the night of a full moon to enjoy her full seductive essence."
It was a bit past a full moon last night while I drank this bottle with a friend to the very last drop, but it still shined with the radiance of some heavenly body.
I could smell it as I poured this cloudy blood red wine into the glass. My god what a nose. Bursting with tart cherries, pinesap, roses and young blackberries, my mouth puckered and began to water without even tasting it. Once it was in my mouth I was floored. Gorgeous, flowing flavors of passionfruit of all things, tart rasberries, and umeboshi (japanese pickled plum), carried along by a gorgeous support structure of light oak. My tasting notes are hurridly scratched but one word is in all caps and very readable: RINGING. This wine strikes like a gong on the palate and leaves it reverberating for hours.
I liked it.
This is a very tart and luscious wine that I think would go famously with szechuan-flavored country-style spareribs. The acidity of the wine will play off of the darker sweet plum flavors of the sauce and complement the rich meat nicely.
Overall Score: 10
How much?: $75
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