California Pinot Noir At Its Best

California Pinot Noir At Its Best

Posted on Jul, 12. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

One of our distributors came by the other day with a range of samples of high end California wines, primarily expensive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I was familiar with some of the brands but not others, and while the wines showed great across the board (which, given their prices, they darn well should have), one certainly stood out from the crowd — the 2007 Molnar Family Pinot Noir Poseidon’s Vineyard.

The Molnar family has been growing grapes in Napa Valley for 40+ years going back to the late 1960s, when Nicolas Molnar emigrated from Hungary, found his way to Napa, and decided to grow grapes since the surrounding land and wines reminded him of his native land. His Poseidon’s vineyard (planted in 1973) is located in Carneros, at the southern end of the Napa Valley where it meets the San Francisco Bay. This particular region has for years been a key source of high quality Chardonnay and many of Napa’s best Pinot Noirs, as the proximity of the Bay makes this area somewhat cooler and breezier than the Napa Valley floor or the surrounding mountains.

For many many years the Molnar Family simply sold their grapes to leading Napa Valley wineries, including people like Joseph Phelps, Pride Mountain, Heitz Cellars, Sterling, Acacia and Mumm. As has been the case with so many growers in recent years, as the next generation took over the business from their father they rapidly tired of selling their grapes for others’ profit and decided to hire a winemaker and use the best lots to bottle their own wines. They hired founding winemaker Michael Blaise Terrien, who had been using their grapes while winemaker at Acacia for many years. In only 5 vintages, their wines have grown in stature and visibility, while remaining (for now) incredibly reasonably priced.

The fact that this wine stood out among competition that was twice the price was of course notable, but I went ahead the other day and ordered another bottle to re-taste to ensure that my experience wasn’t an anomaly. Once again I was mesmerized, and this time I took some high level notes to share via CellarTracker:

Medium ruby color. Cola, black cherry, baking spice and a hint of orange peel. Good acidity provides lots of focus. Great balance. Ripe but not over extracted, with some earth and nuance — just rock solid classic pinot that anyone would enjoy. (93 pts.)

I couldn’t find any other published press on this wine, and while there was just one other CellarTracker review, I must say it was eerily consistent with mine:

One of the purest expressions of Carneros I have had in some time. Not over extracted one bit. On the “burgundian” side of CA pinot. Nose: Complex lovely nose with Ripe Strawberry, Sour Cherry, Cranberry, Smoke, Embers, Hazelnut, Rose/Floral notes and some roasted herbs. Palate: Middleweight, but super silky and really showing dark cherry flavors of Carneros with hints of smoke and earthy terroir. Finish: Shorter than desired but does not overwhelm with powerful fruit, but gracefully tapers off to show cherry/citrus in the finish.(93 pts.)

This wine is yet another stellar example of the exceptional 2007 vintage in Napa. Furthermore, this pure expression of Pinot Noir is precisely what inspired Miles from Sideways in his soliloquy on the virtues of this most noble of varietals. Here’s great chance to taste an exceptional example at a price that’s incredibly reasonable given the quality:

2007 Molnar Family Pinot Noir Poseidon’s Vineyard, Carneros, California
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $28.22 • Premier Cru: $29.50 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $40.00
Buy Now!

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