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04.01.2012

Acid Freaks Unite!: Tasting Notes from In Pursuit of Balance 2012

ipob_tasting.jpgI may be mangling the quote a little, but I swear I saw someone on twitter the other day say something along the lines of: "It may be possible that there's a wine out there with too much acidity, but I have yet to taste it."

I couldn't agree more. For me, acidity (and perhaps more specifically, the perception of acidity -- since they are a little different) is a crucial component that can make or break a wine. I love wines that have higher levels of acidity. They make the mouth water, they give life to the fruit, they make me want to swallow and swallow some more. This is true no matter what the grape variety, but it is especially true with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The organizers of the In Pursuit of Balance tasting that took place in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago would say that acidity is a key component in the overall balance of wine, and when there is not enough acidity, a wine can be out of balance.

This is the second year of the IPOB tasting, which continues to field some of California's top Pinot Noir (and now also Chardonnay) producers. Organized by Jasmine Hirsch, of Hirsch Vineyards, and Rajat Parr, owner of RN74 and the wine director for the Michael Mina Group of restaurants, the tasting is an attempt to highlight what the organizers feel is a style of winemaking that goes underappreciated in California.

I wrote my March column for Jancis Robinson (available to subscribers only) on the philosophy behind the tasting, and some of the controversy surrounding it, so today I'm focusing on the wines themselves. Regardless of the organizing principle behind the tasting, what really matters is whether the wines were any good or not.

And they were. The quality of wine on offer at this tasting, just as last year, was extremely high. Some of my favorite producers were on hand, and I was also introduced to several wineries whose wines I now adore (in particular Red Car, Ceritas, and for the second year in a row, Chanin).

Of course, the key question to answer is "were all the wines balanced?" For the most part, I'd have to say that most of them were. But without getting into philosophical territory (for that is where questions of balance certainly lie) I can say that the wines on offer, with a few exceptions, all offered great acidity. They were generally fresh, lively, and bright, and therefore a joy to taste.

This tasting has established itself as one of the better wine tasting events in San Francisco. Now that the organizers have secured a larger and better (really, fantastic) venue, and better managed the overall logistics, it is an event that I can recommend without qualification to anyone who enjoys wines on the leaner side of life, or who is interested in tasting what some of California's most cutting-edge winemakers are doing with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Yes, there is a future for California Chardonnay.

Without any further delay, let's get to the tasting notes, and we'll start with a note from the only rosé poured at the tasting which was absolutely stellar.

2011 Red Car "Bybee vineyard" Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $20
Palest pink in color, this wine smells of strawberry and watermelong, and tastes of them too, with notes of wet stone and orange peel. Bright, tart, completely dry, racy acidity -- everything a rosé should be. This is one of the best I've ever had from California. Note to self: buy, buy, buy. Score: around 9.5.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2010 Ceritas "Porter-Bass Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $50
Somehow my tasting note for this wine got deleted (damn iPad) much to my disappointment. The wine was phenomenal.

2009 Peay "Estate" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $52
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has stunning balance and poise as wet stone and lemon curd take on a savory herbal note through a long finish. Excellent acidity. click to buy.

2010 Sandhi "Rita's Crown" Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills $55
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright lemon curd and wet stones. In the mouth the wine is explosively juiyc with a neon lemon quality that mixes with an equally saline kelpy gorgeousness that is difficult to describe. A hint of resiny aroma enters the finish. Utterly fantastic, and oneof the better California Chardonnays I've had in my mouth in some time.

2010 Sandhi "Sanford & Benedict" Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills $45
Somehow my tasting note for this wine got deleted (damn iPad) much to my disappointment. The wine was phenomenal.

2010 Sandhi "Bent Rock" Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills $45
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and wet stones. In the mouth, delicate acidity lets flavors of lemon curd, pastry cream and liquid wet stone flow across the palate in an utterly sexy, silky stream. Fantastic texture and great flavors. Outstanding.

2009 Wind Gap "Woodruff Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains $48
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and lemon zest. In the mouth the wine is lean and mineral with flavors of wet stones, lemon zest, toasty nuts and a gorgeously savory buscuit quality that is quite disarming. Deliciously gulpable with racy acidity. click to buy.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2010 Red Car "Trolley" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $??
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of juicy lemon zest and floral notes. In the mouth the wine is explosively juicy. My notes include the phrase "electric lemonade" and that about sums it up. Bright, tangy, excellent.

2010 Ceritas "Heintz Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $50
2009 Chanin "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley $33
2010 Copain "Brousseau" Chardonnay, Chalone $65
2010 Freeman "Ryo-fu" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley $40
2010 LIOCO "Demuth Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley $40
2009 Mount Eden Vineyards "Estate" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains $60
2010 Peay "Estate" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $52
2010 Red Car "Ritchie Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $??
2009 Tyler "Clos Pepe" Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills $40


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2009 Alta Maria Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley $28
2010 Calera Chardonnay, Mt. Harlan $30
2009 Chanin "Los Alamos Vineyard" Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County $33
2010 Failla "Hudson Vineyard" Chardonnay, Napa Valley $50
2009 Flowers "Camp Meeting Ridge Estate" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $65
2009 Freestone Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $40
2010 Hirsch Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $54
2009 Littorai "Charles Heintz Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $60
2010 Littorai "Mays Canyon Vineyard" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley $60
2009 Miura "Talley Vineyard" Chardonnay, Arroyo Grande Valley $45
2007 Mount Eden Vineyards "Estate reserve" Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains $55
2009 Ojai "Bien nacido" Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley $25
2010 Tyler "Dierberg" Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley $45

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2010 Calera Chardonnay, Central Coast $16
2009 Domaine Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains $30
2010 Failla Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $45
2009 Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $50
2010 LIOCO Chardonnay, Russian River Valley $30
2010 Ojai Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County $30
2009 Wind Gap "Gap's Crown" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $40

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2010 Ceritas "Annabelle Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $40
Light garnet in the glass, this wine has a beautifully floran raspberry nose. In the mouth the wine has an incredibly gorgeous texture, with a mix of cherry and raspberry flavors swirling amidst a stark wet stone minerality that is quite stunning. Floral notes linger in the finish. Perfect acidity.

2009 Chanin "Le Bon Climat" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $45
Pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and wet stones. In the mouth explosively juicy raspberry and passionfruit flavors mix with an earthy mineral undertone. Incredible mouthwatering acidity makes this wine almost impossible to spit out. Stunningly good, and certainly one of the best renditions of this famous vineyard site I've ever had. click to buy.

2008 Cobb "Rice-Spivak Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $68
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and redcurrant. In the mouth it is incredibly bright, with racy acidity and juicy cherry and sour cherry flavors welded to a stony underbelly. A smoky note enters the finish along with mouth-puckering sour cherry. click to buy.

2008 Cobb "Joy Road" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $68
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of flowers and raspberries. In the mouth it is explosive and mouthwatering as racy raspberry and SweetTart candy flavors dance to electric kool aid acidity. Wonderfully long finish. Acid freaks unite! click to buy.

2008 Cobb "Coastlands Diane cobb" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $78
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of cherries and raspberries. In the mouth crystalline flavors of cherry and a greenish piney note mix with a salinity and wet stone quality that make for an overall impeccably delicious package. Fantastic. triumphant even. click to buy.

2009 Kutch "McDougall Ranch" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $55
Light garnet in the glass this wine has a wonderfully floral raspberry nose to it. In the mouth the wine is explosively juicy with crystalline raspberry and cherry fruit flavors that taste like they are dripping off the side of a glacier. Floral notes float above the fruit. Fantastic. click to buy.

2009 LIOCO "Hirsch Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $60
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of citrusy raspberry fruit and wet earth. In the mouth the wine is super juicy with orange-peel citrus qualities meshed with raspberry and an earthy undertone. The tart flavors linger through a long finish. Great acidity and wonderful complexity. Outstanding. click to buy.

2008 Mount Eden Vineyards "Estate" Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains $55
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry fruit. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful balance between savory and sweet raspberry flavors. Gorgeous umami notes mix with red berries and a stony undercurrent of minerality. Lovely, and very nicely balanced. click to buy.

2010 Peay "Pomarium Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $54
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright raspberry fruit with notes of flowers. In the mouth it is crystalline and gorgeous with soft velvety tannins that enclose flavors of raspberry, wet stone, and wet earth. Quite possibly the best Pinot yet from Peay. click to buy.

2010 Red Car "Doc's Ranch" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $70
Palest garnet in the glass, this wine has an incredibly beautiful floral and raspberry nose. In the mouth the wine is ethereal. Stunningly bright raspberry, redcurrant and wet stone flavors swirl in a beautifully textured package. Gorgeous.

2010 Red Car "Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $65
Light to medium garnet in the glass this wine has a bright forest floor nose of cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth fantastically juicy raspberry and cherry flavors mix with that forest floor earthiness and an even more austere wet stone quality. Phenomenal acidity.

2010 Wind Gap "Gap's Crown Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $50
Pale garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and forest floor. In the mouth flavors of raspberry, cherry and forest floor mix with hints of brown sugar that linger in a long juicy finish. Exceptional acidity and lovely texture. Ourstanding. click to buy.


RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

2010 Anthill Farms Winery "Tina Marie" Pinot Noir, Green Valley $44
Light to medium garnet in the glass this wine has a wonderful floral and bright cherry raspberry aroma. IN the mouth the wine is juicy and bright with sour cherry and floral notes. Excellent acidity.

2009 Anthill Farms Winery "Comptche Ridge" Pinot Noir, Mendocino $44
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and raspberries. In the mouth it has a darker cherry aspect that is quite crystalline with excellent acidity and beautiful wet stone character.

2009 Anthill Farms Winery "Demuth" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $44
A cloudy light garnet color in the glass, this wine has a wonderfully floral nose, with gorgous, tart sour cherry flavors and notes of wet stone and flowers. Excellent acidity.

2007 Barham Mendelsohn Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $28
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cedar. In the mouth the wine has a remarkably smooth texture with flavors of bright cherry and cedar. On the bigger side, but not out of proportion, with rich fruit, and excellent acidity.

2010 Ceritas "Escarpa Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $60
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sour cherry and white flowers. In the mouth flavors of sour cherry and stemmy woody flavors mix with a deeper wet stone quality. Excellent acidity.

2009 Chanin "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $45
Pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries, cedar, and floral notes. In the mouth the wine offers bright juicy raspberry flavors mixed with floral aroma. A saline quality emerges along with cedar notes in the finish. Fantastic.

2008 Cobb "Emmaline Ann Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $68
Light garnet in the glass this wine offers stony aromas of rasperry and cherry. In the mouth the wine is crystalline, with bright cherry and raspberry flavors that are filtered through a stony quartz-like matrix. Great acidity and light tannins.

2009 Copain "Kiser En Haut" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $75
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberries and wet stones. In the mouth sour raspberry and wet stone qualities also take on floral and even hibiscus notes in the finish.

2009 Copain "Monument Tree" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $65
Medium garnet in the glass this wine smells of earthy raspberry fruit. In the mouth grippy tannins surround juicy, earthy cherry and raspberry notes with cedar emerging in the finish.

2009 Copain "Wentzel" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $65
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and wet earth. In the mouth, tart raspberry flavors and tacky tannins dominate, while stony flavors of cherry linger in the finish.

2010 Failla "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River $45
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries and wet dirt. In the mouth flavors of cherry and darker raspberries mix with that wet earth darkness that is quite compelling.

2010 Failla Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $34
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright raspberry fruit. In the mouth juicy cherry and raspbery flavors mix with fantastic acidity and an earthy undertone.

2009 Flowers "Sea Ridge View Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $68
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest floor and raspberry fruit. In the mouth raspberry fruit and forest floor flavors take on a juicy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Fine grained tannins linger in the earthy finish.

2009 Freestone Vineyards "Pastorale" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest floor and red berries. In the mouth stemmy raspberry flavors seem like they emerge from the wet spongy pine uff and soil of a forest after the rain. Very pretty. Excellent acidity.

2009 Freestone Vineyards "Quarter moon" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cedar and raspberry. Raspberry fruit and earthy cedar notes dominate the palate, with light but insistent tannins that linger through the finish. Nice acidity.

2009 Hirsch "Reserve Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $85
Medium garnet in the glass this wine smells of raspberry and wet earth. In the mouth super juicy raspberry flavors mix with bright citrus and stony notes. Excellent acidity.

2010 Kutch "McDougall Ranch" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $55
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, bright stony cherry notes have excellent acidity and wonderful length.

2009 Kutch "Falstaff" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $50
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and cherries with a hint of red apple skin. In the mouth incredibly juicy flavors of stony cherry and raspberry fruit also have red apple skin sourness to them. Exquisite acidity.

2010 LIOCO Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $35
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cherries and raspberry fruit. In the mouth tart cherry and raspberry fruit is juicy with bright acidity and a stony undertone that is quite compelling. An outstanding value, too.

2009 Littorai "Savoy Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $55
Medium garnet in the glass this wine smells of rich raspberry fruit. In the mouth the wine is plush and velvety with a sexy texture and bright rapberry fruit.

2009 Littorai "Cerise Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $65
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth, juicy raspberry and cherry notes mix with a deeper forest floor earthiness that is quite compelling. Delicious. Faint tannins.

2009 Littorai "The Haven Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry fruit and pine duff. In the mouth the wine is poised with tangy sour cherry and raspberry fruit and a distinctly piney, earthy quality that lingers trhgou the long tart finish. Lovely acidity.

2009 Mount Eden Vineyards "Estate Bottled" Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains $55
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry, cedar and forest floor. In the mouth juicy raspberry fruit mixes with a forest floor earthiness as cedar notes linger in the finish. Excellent acidity.

2009 Peay "Scallop Shelf Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $54
Medium garnet in the glass this wine smells of bright cherry and raspberry fruit. In the mouth the wine is pure cherry with a wonderful crystalline acidity that makes the mouth water. Soft tannins creep around the edges of the mouth.

2009 Calera "Ryan Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mt. Harlan $40
2010 Freeman "Akiko's Cuvee" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $50
2010 Heaven & Earth Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $65
2010 Peay Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $42
2009 Soliste "Sonatera Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
2009 Twomey Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $50
2010 Wind Gap "Woodruff Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains $50


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9

2009 Hirsch "San Andreas Fault Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $60
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of of orange peel and raspberry fruit. In the mouth earthy raspberry fruit takes on an orange peel citrusy note. Good acidity.

2009 Au Bon Climat "Isabelle" Pinot Noir, California $50
2009 Calera "Selleck Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mt. Harlan $78
1998 Calera "Reed Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mt. Harlan N/A
2010 Cep Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $??
2010 Evening Land Vineyards "Occidental Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $97
2010 Evening Land Vineyards "Evening land estate" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $30
2010 Evening Land Vineyards "Tempest Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $45
2009 Flowers "Camp Meeting Ridge Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $80
2010 Flowers Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $48
2010 Freeman "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $46
2009 Miura "Willams Ranch" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $62
2009 Miura "Pisoni Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands $62
2008 Native9 "Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $60
2008 Ojai "Presidio Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County $45
2010 Soliste "Nouveau monde" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
2010 Soliste "Foret" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $75
2010 The aphorist Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $65 $65
2009 Twomey "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $50
2009 Twomey Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $50
2009 Twomey Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $50
2009 Tyler "Clos Pepe" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $60
2010 Tyler "Bien Nacido - Q Block" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $65
2010 Tyler Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County $38

RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2010 Domaine Eden Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains $30
2009 Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $55
2010 Hirsch "Bohan Dillon" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $32
2009 Miura "Silacci Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Monterey County $62
2009 Native9 "Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $60
2010 Ojai "Fe ciega" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita hills $45
2010 Sandhi "Evening Land Tempest" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $55
2010 Sandhi "Sanford & Benedict" Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $55
2010 Sandhi Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills $36
2010 Twomey Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $50


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2009 Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $28
2008 Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $40
2008 Ici la bas "Elle vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mendocino $28

Comments (7)

Dave M wrote:
04.02.12 at 11:53 AM

Alder,
Other than the Miura, were there any other Santa Lucia Highlands Pinots or did they just not score well with you? You can't get much more of a stylistic contrast dropping in something like a Pisoni among all these Sonoma Coast & Anderson V wines! I would guess that in the company of these wines they wouldn't be viewed as "balanced" by many, although I enjoy them as an alternative expression from cool, coastal Pinots.

Alder wrote:
04.02.12 at 12:10 PM

David,

I tasted every single wine there, except for the 1994 Calera Chardonnay, which had poured out by the time I got to it. The tasting notes above are for every wine I tasted.

Long way of saying, the Miura wines were the only SLH pinots there, and they were definitely among the ripest wines of the tasting. I don't think I'd call them unbalanced, far from it, but stylistically they definitely were on the opposite end of the spectrum from, say Wind Gap.

Alder

Dirk-Antoon Samyn wrote:
04.03.12 at 8:52 AM

Hi, very nice tasting notes, but the one I have difficulty to understand is the frequent use of 'smell of wet stones'?
What's that? What can I imagine with that? Which stones?
Thanks for a clarifying answer.
Dirk

Alder wrote:
04.03.12 at 9:03 AM

Dirk,

Thanks for the note. Wet stones smell like… wet stones. Sort of like oranges smell like oranges.

Perhaps this would be instructive: http://www.vinography.com/archives/2012/02/the_essence_of_wine_wet_rocks.html

And if that fails to inspire, I recommend going outside, finding a stream, picking up a stone out of the water (making sure it is not covered in algae) and putting it in your mouth. That "taste" is the aroma of wet stones.

David Price wrote:
04.09.12 at 6:51 AM

Can you tell the difference between wines which are/are not acidified? For instance, I think Peay's grapes come from an even cooler climate than many in Sonoma county, so they may be naturally higher in acidity than most, but what prevents wineries from just adding acid? And is that necessarily bad?

Alder wrote:
04.09.12 at 8:51 AM

David,

I personally don't think I could pick out an acidulated wine in a blind tasting. In the US, it is not illegal to add acid (as it is in many places in Europe -- but people do anyway) and many do make "acid adjustments." There is nothing wrong with adding acid to wine in my opinion. Most people have little idea how much it happens -- pretty much every red wine from Australia and Chile and Argentina have acid added to them, for instance -- and done correctly, it improves a wine. Would it be ideal if the winemaker didn't have to add acid? Yes, but it would also be ideal if the winemaker didn't have to irrigate either.

I think it is possible to take a wine out of balance -- i.e. make it taste disjointed -- through the addition of too much acid (usually tartaric). I would bet (though I've never done an actual comparison) that there would be a pretty big difference between the flavors of a wine that was naturally very high in acidity, as many of the Pinots on this list are, and one that was produced through the significant addition of acid. What I'm saying is that I might not be able to tell if it was, in fact, acidulated, but if all the acid were coming from external additions, it just might not taste very good. Anyhow, that's my speculation.

04.13.12 at 2:46 PM

A couple of thoughts on the acids and acid addition question.

One of the things we deal with, fairly often, is that the grapes we get from cooler areas (the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon in particular and sometimes the Sonoma Coast) come in with very high acid, but because the weather is so cool, much of that acid is malic (you want about 1/3 malic and appx. 2/3 tartaric. We've seen 60+% malic). So the juice may start out as high acid, low pH put post-ml it is much less so. So we sometimes have to add acid to juice that is already high in acid (that's scary).

As far as telling whether or not the acid was natural...I don't thing you usually could. If an acid addition is done as juice rather than as wine, and in moderation (you can't make a huge addition, generally, and have it integrate) then it doesn't stand out. We've screwed that up a few times.

All in all, we'd prefer not to make any additions, but if necessary we will do it following those protocols.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

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