By Kori ~ February 15th, 2010.
Regular readers know that itâ€™s not often that I give high praise to a Pinot. However, we recently had the opportunity to taste the 2007 Bouchaine Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir in a samples tasting, and it was excellent.
Bouchaine Vineyards is the oldest continuously operated winery in the Carneros District of the Napa Valley in California. In 1929, an Italian winemaker named Johnny Garetto purchased the land that is todayâ€™s Bouchaine Vineyards. Beringer bought the estate from Garetto in 1951 and used it as a storage and blending facility. In 1981, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Wilmington, Delaware, together with a group of partners purchased the winery and established Chateau Bouchaine. Ten years later, the couple became sole proprietors of the winery and renamed it Bouchaine Vineyards.
The Copelands named Michael Richmond winemaker in 2002. Richmond uses an interesting human analogy to describe the dramatic difference between making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two varieties best suited to the climate of Carneros.
â€œMaking Chardonnay is like raising kids back in the 50â€™s, with a lot of parental control and the expectation that the next generation will conform to that training. Making Pinot is the more â€˜modern wayâ€™ of raising children, where the parents just set the boundaries and try to keep them out of jail. With Chardonnay, we hope to be delighted by and proud of the outcome of our supervision; with Pinot, we hope to be delighted and relieved by the way it turns out. Itâ€™s the difference between shaping the Chardonnay and allowing the Pinot to manifest itself. Pinot is one of the most precocious and capricious of all grape varieties.â€
Bouchaine is devoted to sustainable practices in the vineyard and winery, holding both the Napa Valley Green and Fish-Friendly Farming Environmental certifications.
2007 Bouchaine Estate Pinot Noir (Carneros, Napa Valley, California): Medium-deep ruby red in color. Beautiful bouquet with aromas of red fruits and pencil shavings. Strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, and smoke come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium tannins. Well-balanced and complex with a long, pleasant finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $45; Available elsewhere, $30 to $53 [previous vintages]
Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Wines Over $25