Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Laetitia Vineyard 2012 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley

It had been a pretty miserable, rotten day – and in general, I’m an upbeat guy! We had gotten socked with a winter storm and the snow kept coming for hours.
Aside from the fact that I had to use the snowblower three time during the day, the storm also created the possibility we couldn’t go to a dinner with friends. We were planning on going to the new house of the Cabinator and Glorious T. It’s a bit further away than their previous home and the roads were a slushy mess.
We decided it was a trip we had to make, so we loaded up all the cold weather emergency gear – portable snow shovel, extendable icescraper and brush and this bottle of 2012 Laetitia Whole Cluster Pinot Noir.
Laetitia Vineyard is located in Arroyo Grande Valley in central California. It was first planted to grapes in 1982 by French winemakers. Nineteen years later, it was purchased by Selim Zilkha who founded a successful wind power company and now champions environmental sustainability.
This is a superb Pinot Noir and I can only imagine it getting better with a year or two of bottle age. Pinot Noir is a delicate grape and there is a fine line between finesse and uninspired. That’s why this wine is so appealing.
Most Pinot is made by removing the grapes from the stem prior to fermentation. For this wine, 45% whole clusters are included during the maceration and fermentation. It provides depth and complexity that can be lacking in some Pinot.
Laetitia calls this wine their “black sheep” because of the unique whole cluster process. We agree, as long as we’re talking about the “black sheep of awesomeness!” This is a wine that delivers expressive flavors of raspberry and cola with a smidge of mushroom – all wrapped in a light, balanced body.
The wine is aged for 11 months in 50% new French barrels, but the flavors are never overpowered. There are only 420 cases of this wine and it is worth searching for. The retail price is $28 and it’s an excellent value for that price.
The quality of California Pinot Noir is better than ever. At the recent California Pinot Noir Summit, Laetitia was named one of the “sensational seven” producers of Pinot and we can see why. Their whole cluster wine is an excellent introduction to their line of quality Pinot.
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