The Arroyo Grand Valley, home to Laetitia, is located just outside of San Luis Obispo, California. It is one of the coolest grape growing regions in California, and is already famous for its cool climate Pinot Noirs that are often compared to Burgundy forbearers.
Laetitia itself has a European heritage, having first been established as Maison Deutz, a French owned wineyard focused on making sparkling with with Methode Champenoise. In 1997 vineyard owner Jean-Claude Tardivat bought out the winery, renamed it after his daughter, and started using the grapes to make vineyard designate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc along with the sparkling wines.
This particular wine was noted by the winemaker as having unusual color even from the moment of de-stemming, and the wine was left in contact with the skins for an extra 2 days (a full 50% longer than usual) in order to extract all the color, and fermentation happened rapidly over three days. The result is a wine with a surprisingly low alcohol content (13.3%) for its color and strength of extraction. Because of the power of this wine even before barreling, the winemaker chose to reduce the amount of new oak used on the wine.
The color of dark garnet, this is literally the darkest Pinot I have ever seen. That inky tone is echoed in the nose which is rich and resonant with aromas as unlikely as the color: licorice, blueberry, bacon fat. In the mouth it has an immediately smokey element which is surrounded by extracted, thick flavors of blueberries, black cherries, and earth. Fruit is the dominant flavor here, from front palate to finish, to the point of being a little heavy handed.
This is the first pinot I would even jokingly suggest you pair with venison, but honestly, this wine is so dark and rich you might treat it a little more like a Zinfandel or a Syrah when you're thinking about what to eat with it. Try it with Moroccan spiced beef.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How Much?: $25
Wine Searcher shows a couple of locations online that have it available
Introducing The Essence of Wine Book Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 24, 2013 Vinography Images: Down the Row Pinot Days Southern California 2013: December 7, Los Angeles When Should You Not Be Allowed to Be Biodynamic? Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 17, 2013 Vinography Images: Below the Clouds Don't Ask a Dinosaur for Directions California's Current Wine Revolution
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy