Domestic Selection: Pinot Noir, 1987. Peacock Hill

Things certainly are looking good for us WOMC enthusiasts in 1992! I would never have imag­ined that Paul could find two love­ly Pinot Noirs within such a short period of time (seven months), es­pecially considering the price class of most Pinot Noirs. The last one was Tony Austin’s 1988 (#691A) sent last June. That was a beautiful wine, but wait ’til you taste this Peacock Hill!

Winemaker Norman Yost, a University of California, Davis graduate, served a four year ap­prenticeship at Monticello Cellars in the Napa Valley, first in the cel­lar and then as the Assistant Wine-maker. The opportunity to assume the title and responsibilities of Winemaker at Peacock Hill lured him there at its beginning in 1986.

The vineyards are located ap­proximately 60 miles north of San Francisco, within the appellation (viticultural district) officially des­ignated by the U.S. Government as the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Lying 22 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and one mile east of the Russian River itself, the climate there is best de­scribed as “coastal cool”.

Pinot Noir seems to thrive best in cooler winegrowing districts. Perhaps “thrive” is a bad choice of words here. The vine itself seems to “perform” best in extreme, ad­verse (colder) climates, like Burgundy, France (“Bourgogne”, the grape’s ancestral homeland), the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the Carneros and Russian River districts in California. A “shy-bearing” producer, the Pinot Noir vine yields a relatively short crop in these cooler regions. What it gives up in quantity it seems to gain in quality. Wines from this varietal are seldom full-bodied or dark in color. They can, however, exhibit a complexity which com­bines gentility with a depth of fla­vor and texture unsurpassed in any other red wines.

Our selection has the color of a mature wine: medium-dark brick-red. Its Pinot nose jumps out of the glass, like someone had heaped a bushelbasketful of raspberries and wild strawberries onto your table. Smooth, round and medi­um-full in the mouth, with perfect­ly balanced, dry, clean, refreshing acidity, the wine features tradition­al plum/raspberry “Burgundian” fruit flavors. It finishes with an al­most “candied” aftertaste.

Serve at cool room temperature with roast leg of lamb marinated in red wine, garlic, parsley and black pepper.

Cellaring Notes: Enjoy this wine now and throughout 1992.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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