Solomon Hills Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley AVA, California, USA, 2011
Santa Maria Valley
Is an AVA spanning San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Solomon Hills Vineyards are on sandy loam, at the western extremity of the AVA, in the valley of the east-west flowing Santa Maria River, about five miles inland from the Pacific, into which it empties. The proximity of the Pacific lends a maritime character to the climate, with a marked effect from cooling oceanic breezes flowing over the cold California Current, and fog, which encroaches inland overnight, and does not burn off until late morning.
This wine: Lot No. L2-21-13, varietal pinot noir, coated natural cork closure, 13.2% abv, Tasting Room, £52 (09/17)
Consumer tasting note: a nose of rich red cherry jam edged with a hint of pine, stewed red and black berries, hints of richer black cherry, low-key waxy sweet oak and liquorice; medium bodied, with a palate of rich dark red cherry jam, spicy red currant, and just a whiff of oak. Finishes medium-long. Decant for 30 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, pale intensity garnet, showing tears, and a tiny amount of fine sediment.
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of rich red cherry jam, hint of pine, sweet oak, touch of struck match, bees-wax, low-key hint of farmyard, spicy, ripe red plum, stewed red and black berries, floral hint of tea rose, richer hints of black cherry, hints at black liquorice,
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium (-) tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium body, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture and a sense of sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of rich dark red cherry jam, touch of red currant, a touch spicy, ripe red plum, low-key hint of sweet oak. A medium (+) length with a clean rich lighty spicy red cherry jam finish.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced acidity and low-key tannins with alcohol, suiting the flavour intensity; good intensity throughout, similar concentration, length perhaps a little shorter than anticipated; showing a well-developed profile with evidence of time in wood and bottle age, with just a touch of bretty farmyard and a hint of pine adding to the sound, but not outstanding level of complexity.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for further ageing, over say 2-4 years – a sound structure and balance, the profile could tend more towards dried berries, leaf humus, and more defined liquorice.