A sinister snowflake? A sparsely-spined sea urchin? A magnified mini Koosh? Nope!
The artwork for Alta Maria Vineyards features hand-hewn iron nails used by homesteaders in Santa Maria before the Industrial Revolution introduced mass-produced, machine-cut nails. Despite its lowly function, each nail is unique from the next according to the conditions in which it was made and the expertise of the craftsman.
I can’t remember the last time I hefted a bottle with such artistic presence: lower-case, undersized embossed text on a heavy, matte-finish label with rounded edges, a weighty, sweeping bottle of green-yellow glass, and v-notched accents highlighting the vintage year on the label’s flanks. Badass.
Did I mention that Wine Enthusiast scored the Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir 93 points? Oh, and it’s 23 bucks.
Score, value, artisanal, and availability—rarely do these points align in the wine world. Sure, 3 out of 4, in any combination is easy, but the whole lot? Impossible—especially when Pinot Noir is in the mix. Hypothetically, this wine would make perfect sense on paper at $50, and I would be left in envy. Instead I have 6 bottles of a wine I will cherish over the next couple years.
My Tasting notes:
Bold California-style fruit and minerality with Burgundian, or better yet, Oregonian, body and texture characteristics. Nice fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with tart rhubarb veg. Intriguing nose—hearthstone, soot, sandalwood, white chocolate, and a touch of cedar.
Interestingly offloading lots of sediment—at such a young age! Likely a sign of natural winemaking processes, which, in varying degrees, may include minimal, if any, filtration.
Intense mineral component, like chipped blue stone, on the palate as well. A very steady wine with a rosy complexion and a winning mushroom element on the back end.
The Alta Maria coffers at K&L Wine Merchants are full, at least for now—meaning greater than 60 bottles are available at each of their 4 warehouse and retail locations. I assure you, this won’t last. Deals like this just don’t come along regularly. Try a bottle; if you love it, order more. If you hate it? I want to be the first to know.
[Wine Library TV. Where I learned about the Alta Maria Pinot Noir for the first time as it took on another 93-point wine from Paul Hobbs. Click picture to watch.]