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
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Vinography Images: Unglamorous Work A Lesson in the Loss of Denis Malbec I'll Drink to That: Kimberly Prokoshyn of Rebelle Restaurant Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/19/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 12, 2016 Warm Up: Richebourg I'll Drink to That: Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet Vinography Images: It's Nice to be King It's Time for American Wineries to Grow Up I'll Drink to That: Joy Kull of La Villana Winery
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune