Mark Oliver, a partner of Windrun Wine, located in Santa Barbara County, emailed to ask if I’d like to taste his Pinot Noirs. As his company is a négociant wine brand,  there’s a lot of freedom to choose wine grapes that are grown in the finest vineyards, which makes the most sense to some.  Windrun Wine is dedicated to bringing great value to those who purchase their wines (Code: a lot of wine for the money).

I do love Pinot Noir. It was the second red wine that I came to love; Zinfandel being the first. I can write this because working at Belvedere Winery, winemaker Erich Russell was making a killer Dry Creek Zin. Until that time, I thought Zin was mainly used for white Zin… And in the early 90s, I was probably right… but wrong in so many ways, not knowing what fabulous flavors Zinfandel really has. And I mean 100 percent Zin, when it’s only the varietal expression and not fortified to have more cajones, as they say in the vineyards around here.

Once I “got” red wine, the next one I tasted was a Pinot Noir, and I fell in love again. It reminded me of the love I had when just holding another brand new baby of mine, wrapped in a soft cotton blanket… It was that smoothly delicious.

So, taste your wine, Mark? Sure… Bring it on. The bottles arrived: excitement! They sat in my office for about a month, while I was drooling over “potential.” Life was swirling around me; I have a busy day job that keeps me wine hopping. So… the three Pinots aged a bit further.

It was one of those scenarios

Finally, last weekend, I got the time that I needed to give these three wines my full attention. Before I write about the Pinots, let me just say, they did live up to the drooling. So much so, that when I have great wine, which shouldn’t have one drop wasted, I have a neighbor who I run to with any extra wine. Three bottles (each one only having a couple of ounces poured from the bottle) = two people in our household + one neighbor. This guarantees that nothing is wasted.

The Tree Pinot Noir

  1. 2012 Windrun San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir
  2. 2013 Windrun Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
  3. 2013 Windrun Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

This was going to be fun, I told myself. Three different terroir is going to equal three separate flavor of Pinot, based on origin and different vineyard management teams.

I first poured each one into a big bowled Pinot Noir glass. Yes, I’ve had many wine tastings with the appropriate stemware, and it does make a huge difference in how the wine is delivered. So, anything worth doing is worth doing well. Bring out the crystal…

I evaluated the color of each wine, and based on what I saw, going from the lightest Pinot Noir to the more full bodied one, the above numbers of one through three are how I tasted the wines. It made perfect sense to me that the 2012 vintage would be lightest and silkiest, since the tannins had a year to “simma down, now” in the bottle; and this proved to be right. I was also appreciative of the lower alcohols of the wines, since lower alcohol wines do pair better with foods of a more delicate nature.

  • The 2012 Windrun San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir was a beautiful ruby red color, with just a slight hit of burgundy around the edges… As wine ages, a bit of it shows that age with a slight hit of – I don’t want to say brown, but I don’t know what else to call it. This wine was NOT brown, in any sense of the imagination. I could just see the ever-so-slight difference that an extra year in the bottle will bring to fine wines. This was the one that I also brought to my neighbor, because I wanted him to share the learning curve. He loves to listen to me explain what I’m giving to him, because so many of my statements are new for him. He’s got a private tutor. This Pinot Noir is an exceptional wine, which had beautiful hints of rose hip tea. Each one, though, was very distinctively different in such delicate ways, that there was no real favorite for me.
  • The 2013 Windrun Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir was my my next one tasted. This one became my bottle for the duration of it being opened. Bright and different aromatics from its younger fruit than the 2012 San Luis Obispo one, I was beginning to remember how terroir was also a factor. The Santa Barbara one just rang true in what I love about Pinots… Young fruit, medium tannins, violets, blue and red raspberry flavors… Satin sheets here… What was not to love?
  • The 2013 Windrun Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir was easily my husband’s favorite. It had light to medium tannins, and that pleases his palate. He’s also got a more Eurocentric love of Pinot, based on his days at The Wine Spectrum, tasting some really fine Burgundian wines. It’s inky opaque, with lots of red raspberries and the medium tannins… It has a silky smooth finish… like silk sheets. A bit more substance than the satin sheets, but both are ever so smooth and delicious.

I don’t know why you reached out to me, Mark, but I’m surely happy that you did!