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2007 Loring Wine Co Pinots

Brian Loring is all smiles these days, doting over his 2007 vintage Pinot Noirs. Every winemaker says that the current vintage is better than the last, but Brian really means it with the 2007 wines. He is not alone, as the 2007 harvest in California was stellar all over the state. Yields were low giving the wines superb concentration and perfect weather at harvest allowed phenolic ripeness to develop without excessive alcohols. 2007 was more challenging in Oregon but adept winemakers crafted very good wines there too.

Brian is a self-admitted “pinot freak” who was at the vanguard of those who in the late 1990s who left other occupations and pursued dreams of making Pinot Noir. Brain came from a software engineering background. His early experiences with Pinot Noirs from Williams Selyem, Chalone, Calera and Sanford lit his fire, but it was the friendship he developed with winemaker Norm Beko of Cottonwood Canyon Winery in the Santa Maria Valley that committed him to the wine business. While participating in the 1997 crush, he made two barrels of his own Pinot Noir and the Loring Wine Company was hatched. The name was a homage to Josh Jensen and his Calera Wine Company.

His success has been predicated in part on his insistence of acquiring first-rate Pinot Noir grapes from prestigious vineyards. He never professed to be a winegrower, so he allowed vineyard owners to farm his blocks as they farmed the ones that were sourced by experienced winemakers. He began humbly, with 150 cases of Pinot Noir in 1999 and currently crafts about 5,000 cases. He has been quite generous to other budding winemakers, eagerly sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge and inspiring a number of others to make their own Pinot Noir, including Greg Piatigorski (Alcina Cellars), Jamie Kutch (Kutch Wines) and Andrew Vingiello (A.P. Vin).

An investment group composed of admirers of Loring’s wines started Pali Wine Company and built a large winemaking facility in Lompoc. Brian crafts the Pali Pinot Noirs in exchange for use of the winery where he produces his own Loring Wine Company Pinot Noirs.

The Loring Wine Company style is representative of the New World or “Caliesque” Pinot Noir and Brian has become a “poster boy” for this style of Pinot Noir. He has attracted considerable favorable wine press and has enjoyed widespread popularity, although his wines draw divided opinions among pinotphiles. His wines have been darkly hued, ripe, bursting with showy, sappy fruit, full-bodied in structure, possessing plentiful toasted oak, significant alcohol and firm tannins. To his credit, he is still refining his style and the 2007 vintage wines, although still fruit-driven, have better balance with noticeable but well-managed oak tannins, brighter acidity, appealing aromatics, less jammy character, and less alcohol. They are more refreshing to drink as a result. That said, if I have one criticism, it would be that the lineup of wines, excluding the Keefer Ranch, all taste very similar. All the wines are bottled under Stelvin screw cap.

2007 Loring Wine Company Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 725 cases, $46. · A big fruity wine with grill-marked black cherry and plum fruits, reigned-in oak toast, and some good Pinot barnyard aromas. Nicely composed and soft in the mouth with a touch of citrus in the background.

2007 Loring Wine Company Shea Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton District Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

14.2 % alc., 400 cases, $46. About a third of the barrels containing this wine were bulked out, unusual for this vineyard. · Attention-grabbing scents of rich black cherry, spice and a touch of oak. A broad-shouldered gulp of dark fruits with nicely balanced t ‘n a. Mild polished tannins and noticeable oak on the slightly astringent finish. The aromatics are far ahead of the flavors at this stage and this wine demands a couple of years in the cellar.

2007 Loring Wine Company Graham Family Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 250 cases, $46. · Vivid aromas of fresh Bing cherries, a hint of raisin and a slight touch of oak. Plenty of sweet and loamy black cherry fruit accented with flavors of cola and spice. Bright acidity provides a clean finish that sports mild dry tannins.

2007 Loring Wine Company Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 675 cases, $46. · Very sensual aromas of dark cherries, baking spices, musk and prime oak. A hint of alcohol peeks out. Clean and uplifting deeply colored cherry fruit, richly flavored with lively acidity and gripping tannins.

2007 Loring Wine Company Durrell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 425 cases, $46. · Earth-kissed dark stone fruits accentuated by oak, soy and herbs. Plentiful tannins are evident on the clean finish.

2007 Loring Wine Company Keefer Ranch Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 900 cases, $46. · This wine really stands out from the pack. I would love to bottle the scents of Bing cherries, strawberries, and baking spices. This wine has the reddest fruit profile in the lineup, showing off crushed strawberries in particular. Modestly weighted and easy to drink due to polished, dry tannins and an uplifting, tangy and dry finish accented with grapefruit.

Loring Wine Company Pinot Noirs are sold primarily through a mailing list. Brian has always maintained reasonable prices for his wines with only a 10% increase in seven years. The prices above include shipping. Visit the website at www.loringwinecompany.com. Tasting is by appointment at the winery in Lompoc. 805-736-0053. For the 2007 vintage, there are seven other releases: Brousseau Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir (14.0% alc., 300 cases, $46), Naylor Dry Hole Vineyard Chalone AVA Pinot Noir (13.7% alc., 75 cases, $46), Aubaine Vineyard San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir, Clos Pepe Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, Cargasacchi Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, Russell Family Paso Robles Pinot Noir and Rancho La Vina Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The theme of this year’s attractive labels is vineyard gates.

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