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Top Wine of 2006… … … … ...Not

In the most recent issue of the Wine Enthusiast, the editors selected the top 100 wines of 2006. This has been quite fashionable since the Wine Spectator started the trend a few years ago. The Wine Enthusiast selected the best 100 wines from nearly 10,000 total wines tasted. Besides taste, the editors looked at price, availability, newsworthiness (??), and excitement (???). Imagine my surprise, when I opened the article to find the Number One Wine of 2006 was the 2004 De Loach 30th Anniversary Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

DeLoach emerged from bankruptcy a couple of years ago and has been resurrected by the large wine conglomerate, Boisset America Talented winemaker, Greg LaFollette, is now in charge and is steering the venerable label in the right direction. The tasting room has been renovated under the direction of noted architect Howard Backen to create a welcoming country farmhouse feeling.

2004 De Loach 30th Anniversary Cuvée Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 350 cases, $45 (sold out). This commemorative bottling comes from the original De Loach estate Pinot Noir vineyard adjacent to the winery planted in 1977. The vines were removed after the 2004 harvest and replaced with new plantings farmed biodynamically. The wine was made with 100% whole cluster fermentation in open top wood fermenters. Aging was in French oak for 10 months. · I drank this wine twice this past year several months apart with consistent notes. It is a medium-bodied Pinot Noir which really needs significant air time to reveal its charms. Initially the nose is closed. Flavors of herbs, oak, plum and cranberry lead to a finish which is stemmy, herbal and moderately astringent with a hint of heat. The texture is smooth and satisfying. I left an opened bottle overnight and re tasted the next day. The nose had cleaned up significantly with appealing toast and cherries. The overall impression was more mellowness and the back end astringency had resolved. The finish now featured some lingering spice and a hint of oak. This wine will benefit from a couple years in the cellar. A decent Pinot with potential, but just not my cup of tea (pinot). When you consider taste, price and availability, I just don’t see how this wine could be the Top Wine out of 10,000, let alone the top Pinot Noir.

I recently had the 2005 De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir which was served by the glass at a restaurant. This wine was thoroughly enjoyable as a luncheon companion and highly recommended for $20. De Loach also offers an OFS Pinot Noir (‘our finest selection’, $35)), and single vineyard Pinot Noirs from Green Valley and Moborishi Vineyard ($42-45).

De Loach Vineyards tasting room is open daily from 10:00 to 4:30. Wines are paired with gourmet breads, artisan cheeses and chocolate. There is a small charge for tasting. The winery is offering weekend-long Yoga retreats in 2007 at the winery’s private guest house directed by noted Bay Area yoga instructor, Rosemary Garrison. Vegetarian meals will be featured using produce from the winery’s 18,000 square-foot organic garden and will be prepared by winery chef Cyndicy Coudray. Cost is $1000 pp. The winery’s phone number is 707-526-9111. The wines are sold on the website at www.deloachvineyards.com. The address is 1791 Olivet Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95401.

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