Story by Manos Angelakis
Photo of Steak by Manos Angelakis, bottle shots by the producer
Thankfully, most California wineries are getting away from the over oaked, over extracted bombs they were offering during the late-20th-century, to much more balanced, more acceptable wines.
Many are small producers.
Others are part of producer’s or co-operative groups that finally realized that pleasing just a single, well known wine writer and critic, did not much enhance their sales, no matter how high points he was giving them, but it was also antagonizing the overall market that demanded much more subtle wines. It’s a very large market out there, and a sole critic’s opinion would not necessarily increase those producer’s sales to a significant degree.
I have been receiving recently from California tasting samples that I find much more in concert with my taste. I like the more delicate, aromatic, wines; I don’t want to taste much of the wood the wine is aged in.
Lula Cellars is a boutique winery located in the "Deep End" of the Anderson Valley making world class, small production, handcrafted wines, lightly fined and filtered before bottling. I recently received some of their wines and I will agree that the Pinot Noirs they produce from a number of vineyards in the area are well worth the price that is asked for them.
The 2018 vintage seems to be extremely good, complex but approachable even at this early stage. The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Lula Vineyard Pinot Noir, Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir that I received, are all classic wines that are almost ready to drink now but, in my opinion, will further improve with some judicious cellaring – except for the Rosé which is ready to drink immediately!
The Anderson Valley bottle has a black fruit dominated wine with notes of black cherries, plums, cigarbox and cinnamon being most prominent. It is full bodied, smooth and considerably dry. Barely noticeable oak barrel aging made this wine work well with the dishes I paired it, especially the bon fillet with green peppercorn sauce (I used some of the wine to make the sauce). I would rate it at 93 points.
The Lula Vineyard Pinot Noir was also remarkable, the flavorful grapes produce a finished wine with great acid structure and classic aromatics of tea, cloves and cigar box. I also thought that I sensed some rosewood notes, but that might have been my imagination. I would rate it at 91 points.
The Peterson Pinot Noir. Lula has been producing this single vineyard Pinot wine for many years as I understand. Created from three different clones, it exhibits a bright purple color, vibrant aromas, and flavors of violets, cherries and wild berries with some spice being quite evident in the long finish. Believe it or not, I paired it with a charcoal grilled slice of swordfish and I was surprised that a red wine worked so well with a piece of fish! So, I guess, the old adage of red wine with red meat, white wine with fish, is just an old adage. I would rate it at 89 points.
To your health!
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