Pinot Noir 1978 – Alatera Vineyard

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | March 1982

Three Napa Valley grape growers, who were neigh­bors, got together and pondered the destiny of their grapes. They were selling wine grapes to vintners who were making excellent wines. “Why not do it ourselves?” was the outcome of such deliberate think­ing.  In 1977, it led to the formation of their own winery, with the help of a financier from San Fran­cisco. Alatera was contrived as a name for the winery from Latin derivations (from the earth). The winery is located four miles north of Napa and two miles south of Yountville, on the St. Helena Highway. Bruce M. Newlan and Holtbrook T. Mitchell are the grower wine makers. They have done the Pinot Noir grape justice in their 1978 version.

The record of Pinot Noir in California is rid­dled with more failures than successes. To quote a California wine authority, “The mysteries of Pinot Noir have defied the best efforts of chemists any­where… in explaining the failures of California Pinot Noir… or its occasional successes.” The re­nowned Andre Tchelistcheff says he wants a grape – and a wine – with “creaminess, a rich round, creamy taste. There should be complexity of texture. The fruit should be excitingly rich, just like an outstanding filet steak, and should have the rich­ness of the meat itself.” This is an unusual anal­ogy; but if you stop and think about it, it can make sense. The classical Pinot Noir examples come from Burgundy in France; and for good vintages, the description above holds true. A grape with dis­tinct varietal character becomes a wine with a velv­ety texture and delicate flavor that lingers in your palate. Optimum aging conditions develop complex­ities of nose and taste that are unforgettable.

Our wine is a textbook example of the varietal character. The color is garnet red. The nose is fruity and fragrant, and demonstrates the varietal character. The taste follows the nose with fruit and flavor. It has a full body that is still very young. A hint of bitterness adds to the overall composite taste. Serve at room temperature with a hearty joint of beef.

CELLARING NOTES: Will age and mellow for 10 years. Worth laying down.

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