A few clues that spring is in the air; wisteria is in full bloom, baseball is playing on the flat-screen and Calera’s distinguished single-vineyard Pinot Noirs are on the shelves!Calera’s glorious Pinot Noirs have garnered decades-long adoration and praise. When you consider that Calera’s winemaker Josh Jensen has been toiling his limestone rich hillside vineyards for over 30 years and in turn making some of California’s, no, the World’s most compelling Pinot Noir, it really is awesome. Not too many wineries here in California can credit making wine for this long with the same winemaker; this kind of experience most certainly accounts for something profound and not easily quantifiable. Back when Josh began making his Pinot Noir using native yeast fermentation as he had learned while interning in Burgundy at DRC and Dujac, he was thought to be a madman, a risk-taker. Nowadays, wild yeast fermentation is de rigueur for winemakers who wish to achieve a certain level of complexity and depth. A clear example of what we once knew, we are learning again.
|Josh Jensen fought hard to have Mt. Harlan designated as its own appellation. In 1990, the Mt. Harlan AVA was recognized covering 7400 acres of which only 100 acres are planted to vine with an elevation beginning at 1800 ft. Calera is the only winery within the Mt. Harlan appellation. The 2010 Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir and the 2010 de Villiers Vineyards are some of Calera’s youngest vineyards, having been planted in 1998 and 1997 respectively, and are touted by many to become, with time, Calera’s finest spots. The 2010 Ryan, so named after Calera’s vineyard manager, is their highest elevation vineyard, reaching nearly 2500 ft. at its highest point. The 2010 de Villiers, planted next to Mills and near Jensen, is densely planted and east-facing. If you look at Calera’s back label you will read a tremendous amount of technical data from bottling dates to vine spacing. I read somewhere that Josh figured most folks just look for alcohol levels but wine geeks want to know more, so why not just put it on the label. But for all the technical data, what is ultimately missing is the blood, sweat and tears, the vintage story and, ultimately, the magic that comes with drinking the wine.
Calera Pinot Noirs are allocated to us in small quantities, so when we sell out, that’s it. Reviews for these 2010’s have not yet been published, but it is my belief that to wait for them could be a mistake. Production for 2010 was reduced and given the cool vintage year, I expect to see reviews for Calera’s 2010s to match or out do the last couple vintages, if that is even possible.
|My theory that if I pretend that I’m not sick, eventually I won’t feel sick back fired on me. I ended up in bed all day Friday feeling far worse than I would have if I just took care of myself at the first symptom. I know I am not alone in utilizing this flawed tactic. Anyway, I spent my time resting, reading a pile of fashion magazines I had picked up at the library. I was particularly amused by an article advocating the merits of a $1200 single-soled shoe over last’s years fashionable, but unflattering, chunky platform. It occurred to me that for many of you, reading about wine is as baffling as reading about couture shoes is for me. I get it, I do. But then again, I can guarantee you that if you want to experience the taste sensation of a wine from a unique vineyard, well placed and well tended, made by an experienced passionate winemaker, you won’t be able to do that with a $12 wine. For $40, Calera’s Pinot Noirs will catapult you to the top of California’s elite wines. —Anya Balistreri|