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Discover Siduri Pinot

Readers ask, “What wine should I buy?” Barring some special requirement — a menu or an occasion — the plain, honest–to–gosh truth is pretty simple:

“Buy the wine you like.”

I’m fortunate to have a very accepting palate. Price does not deter me –– on either end of the spectrum. I’ve had $9 wines that I enjoyed just as much as I’ve savored well–made $100 wines.

Red? White? Sparkling? It’s all about mood for me: What am I in the mood to drink?

I’m always in the mood for Pinot Noir. When the opportunity arose to taste several examples of Pinot Noir from Siduri, I didn’t hesitate.

Siduri produces single vineyard Pinot Noir from 27 different vineyards stretching from Santa Barbara north to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Winery founders Adam and Dianna Lee pour their passion into wine making as readily as I pour their wines into the glass.

They learned the business together, from the ground up, working for other wineries in California. Their first few vintages were made in other wineries’ facilities. Their very first wine earned 90 points from wine critic Robert Parker. They haven’t looked back.

The couple share wine–making duties and successfully juggle a young family of three children while keeping close tabs of grapes that range over a huge geographic area.

Siduri is also in the forefront of a model being adopted by many young wine makers. They don’t own expensive vineyards or an elaborate estate. They work from a nondescript warehouse in Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County.

Don’t let the humble surroundings influence your opinion of the wines. Consider the 2008 Siduri Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir. This classic Willamette Valley, Oregon, Pinot  epitomizes the terroir–specific nature of the often fragile Pinot Noir grape.

This wine combines grapes from three vineyards that range in age from 17 to more than 30 years. This youthfulness and age create a blend of juice that is silky and mature, rich with red cherry and still delivering the clove spiciness that I relish in luxurious Pinot.

Well, gee, can’t anyone take Oregon Pinot and make good wine?

Er, no. The Lees get it, letting the vineyard make the wine and taking cues from nature to harvest at just the right time. Careful handling back in Santa Rosa insures nothing is lost in translation.

Regardless of the appellation, the Lees go for the jugular when sourcing Pinot. They have a long–standing relationship with Santa Lucia Highland’s AVA Garys’ Vineyard. Here, two growers, Gary Franscioni  and Gary Pisoni, have become legendary for their eccentricity — and their penchant for nurturing remarkable Pinot Noir.

More than one–third of the Santa Lucia AVA is planted in Pinot, and the Lees have locked up some of its best fruit.
If you only drink one remarkable bottle of wine this year, make it the 2008 Siduri Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine presents all of the complexity, the decadence and lush fruit you would ever want in Pinot Noir.

I could smell this wine a good hour before putting it to my lips. That slight earthiness is comforting, and the herbal aromas remind me of springtime walks in an awakening forest.

You’ll immediately taste a flurry of cherry, raspberry and blackberry. Drink it in, and know that this is a defining moment in your wine–drinking education.

Even better news: The wine is still young. It will continue to mature for another 3–5 years in bottle.

These and other Siduri wines are going to be tough to find for a while, but ask your retailer to stock them. Later, we’ll visit the Lees’ other label — Novy — which flags some great Syrah.