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New World or Old World…, that decision can lead to contention among wine people. As much as I want to drink the latest Rajat Parr tweeted Burgundy, I generally don’t have the luxury. Old World wines are definitely sexy, but many, especially those that I’m interested in, benefit from a lengthy stay in the cellar to become their more refined selves. Though I would love to cut my teeth on the wines of the Côte d’Or, it just isn’t practical for everyday consumption (monetarily speaking). Living in Los Angeles however affords a bounty of great Pinot Noir makers nearby, those trying to strike a balance between the austerities of Burgundy while reveling in the California sun’s cooperative repair. I  sampled such a bottle, recently, from a budding producer in Santa Barbara.

Zotovich Cellars had been on my radar a short while, name thrown round by a few of my closest friends in the wine world, and I couldn’t wait to taste the touted Pinot Noir. I went to the website to see what I could glean, reading about the winemaker Ryan Zotovich and his stat sheets, showing that he split time between Sea Smoke and Palmina. An added bonus was the direction (consulting) of Steve Clifton—of Brewer-Clifton fame—as well as some decent reviews from Tanzer and Company… not cheating, just prepared. It would be my devoir and privilege to taste the 2009 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir.

With stemware handy, I popped the wine, poured about five ounces and walked away, watching some online television to encourage aeration; I made my way back only after I finished the latest episode of Suits. This is the wine world, always waiting on your date to put on her makeup. When I came back I checked for fault. In its place, a luscious aroma of red cherry starburst and dried rose petals slugged me with a clenched fist. I nosed the wine greedily, pulling out as much as I could in my newly honed WSET approach, finding a faint crack of pepper and some light mushroom.

I brought the bulb to my pursed lips, tasting a dialed-in red fruit attack in the youthful Pinot. Light-footed, with surprising acidity (teetering on medium-plus), wearing fine tannins and leaving a long impression of gorgeous primary fruits that were enhanced by the slightest bit of earth and faint dusting of pepper.

The quality was high, as well as the suggested retail ($39), but it was worthy of its price tag. Delicious, and drank better with every hour. While it might’ve fallen short of a Corton Grand Cru, in terms of austerity, or the seductive charm of Chambolle-Musigny, it was a beautiful Pinot Noir, proudly wearing its New World sweater. I’m still finding my palate, dedicating a serious portion of my time to sniffing out the best Burgundy deals I can find, but in the meantime I’m really happy to have found the Zotovich Pinot Noir to enjoy during the waiting game.

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