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07.17.2004

2001 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grand Valley, Central Coast California

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.

Tasting Notes:
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.

Food Pairing:
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

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