A new friend of mine who works on the distribution side of the industry stopped by the other day with the wines of a Willamette Valley producer that he was considering bringing into the state. I got out my varietal specific Pinot glasses (don’t judge me) and we got to work tasting them. The interesting thing about this particular producer to me was that, while I felt they made solid wines, I heavily favored their less expensive wines. While their single vineyard Pinot Noir came in at $65, I felt that their $35 option and even their entry level Pinot, which came in at $20 retail, were both far more approachable and easier to appreciate. To each their own, eh? It never hurts to be reminded that there’s no true correlation between price and quality.
My friend had driven to me and brought the wine, which seemed to me to be far too generous, so I was sure to contribute a few wines as well. It only seemed fair that if he was going to share some great wine with me, I should also share some great wine with him, so I went down to the cellar and grabbed a few bottles. Among them was a Pinot Noir that I had really been looking forward to, the Meadowcroft Santa Lucia Highlands 2016.
If you read this blog at all, or follow me on Vivino, then you know I’m a big fan of Tom Meadowcroft and his wines. This Pinot Noir is really just further evidence of why. It’s clean and aromatic, with a beautiful, darker-than-expected ruby hue. Dark cherry and hints of white pepper, a touch of strawberry and a subtle earthy Pinot funk are all present at first taste. Over time, it opens up, smoothing out as it does and revealing layers of candied berries and more vibrant red fruits, leading to a silky finish. It’s got a little heft to it, which I certainly didn’t mind, and while it paired well enough with some cheese and light charcuterie, I think the best pairing for this wine is likely a good book or a thoughtful conversationalist.
I love a good Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, I really do, and the ones I tasted through the other day were absolutely solid. That said, my friend and I were in agreement that few domestic Pinots can compare with what Tom Meadowcroft has done with his 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands take on the varietal. It’s a terrific wine, and I highly recommend it.
Cheers to great Pinot Noir, wherever it hails from,