2004 Talisman, Red Dog Vineyard Pinot Noir
Talisman’s goal is very simple: the creation of delicious Pinot Noirs that are true to their roots in particular vineyards in Sonoma County. Owner-winemaker Scott Rich learned his craft as the winemaker for Etude for many years. Red Dog Vineyard, planted in 2000, is located high on the northwest flank of Sonoma Mountain. This panoramic mountainside site is the recipient of almost daily coastal fog and the soils there are low-vigor loamy clays. This is Scott’s inaugural vintage of Red Dog Pinot Noir, named of course (!) for Scott’s dog Ginger. The wine is deep, rich, and aromatic, with a hint of anise and a lush but structured finish. While approachable now, this Pinot should really start to show its best in three to five more years. Enjoy with duck or other rich fare. It is $53 and there is a tiny bit more available.
2004 Tenuta Santa Maria, Torre Pieve Chardonnay
Just ten miles east of Verona in northeast Italy, Tenuta Santa Maria is a very old 22-acre wine estate attached to an imposing medieval farmhouse. The winemaker is Gaetano Bertani, very well known in Italy, assisted by his sons, Giovanni and Guglielmo. Their estate is divided into three vineyards, one each devoted to Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay. The Chardonnay ferments half in stainless steel and half in very large Allier (French) oak barrels. The wine is very intense, rich, and concentrated, and balances citrus fruit flavors with very pleasant notes of vanilla and banana. Often compared with top crus from Meursault, the Torre Pieve does have a characteristically Italian hint of bitterness that makes it a great match with pasta and seafood dishes. Unlike the best Meursault, it is ready to drink and quite reasonably priced at $39.75. We have a bit more available.