Duckhorn Vineyards Decoy Pinot Noir 2008, Anderson Valley + Three

Today I get back to my wine drinking roots! One of the first mentionable and expensive wines I had was a Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 from Napa. Then, it was a really wine "hooking"! I have no idea how the Cabernet Sauvignons from Duckhorn do nowadays As far as I know they still have a very renowned name in the Napa business. Anyway, today's wine is a product of a Duckhorn branch called Decoy in Anderson Valley AVA. The most northern AVA in California. This Pinot is the little brother to the by far better known and much more expensive Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Some years ago I had the opportunity to taste this Goldeneye. A once in a lifetime Pinot Noir experience I would not like to miss for all the wine in the world. Not because it was so fantastic or remarkable. Certainly not! More because it was so extreme. It had not a lot to do with features of Pinot Noir I so much adore. Maybe it was the best caricature of high-quality Pinot Noir I ever had. A pure poster-boy of Californian Pinot Noir as one might expect it to be. But that was then and a very different Pinot. Let's see how the little brother was doing. 

Besides the Decoy there were some additional Pinots from Burgundy and a Stellenbosch guy for dessert!

Duckhorn Vineyards Decoy Pinot Noir 2008, Anderson Valley

The colour of the Decoy Pinot Noir looked surprisingly bright, still mostly radiant and slightly tanned in the coronal region. At first the nose showed unusual cold style smoke. Unusual for a Californian. Same for the mild impressions of smoked ham. Besides that I got plenty of mashed and boiled strawberry and raspberry Pinot perfume. Not in a fat, voluminous or rich way. Somehow this reminded me of an average (or mediocre) Teutonic Spätburgunder from Markgräflerland in Baden: lean, fruitful and a bit too smoky. Not enough oddities? In the first hour this very unusual Teutonic association arose on my palatal, too!?!
The taste did not make me all too happy. Right from the start I got too much, almost vicious, fruit sweetness from boiled strawberries. At least not in a cheesy way, but still absolutely not my preferred Pinot style. Anyhow there was a decent amount of underlying limy mineral'ish impressions. The density was pretty lean for a Californian Pinot, The alcohol slightly present (14,5%), but mostly well integrated. The complexity and finish were moderat (or considering the price: lousy). In conclusion a pretty bovine, very fruitful, dull, imprecise and not so much alive (no age issue) Pinot. Barely so-so ***! On the second day a little
improvement took place. The fruit-forwardness tamed a bit. Still absolutely not as memorable as the Goldeneye Pinot (although I did not like that one either …)!

Domaine Vincent et Denis Berthaut Fixin Les Arvelets 1er Cru 1999, Fixin

The Fixin "Les Arvelets" from Berthaut looked above average dark red and showed some camouflage reflexes on the rim. The bouquet showed indigenous “country air”, nice fragrances of dark fruits, clear not so freshly grounded coffee and various kinds of mild earthy-brown! A straight forward, even slightly elegant and intense nose! The taste impressed me with very fine and not too crude, at least for a Fixin, dark flavours. I got a lot of grounded coffee, mild smoke, a few dark cherries, dry brown earth and clear indications of solid lime. Overall a not too rustic Pinot. There where traces of a bit snobbish landed gentry! The texture of the Fixin was refined. The finish more than just steady and reliable! After a couple of self-induced irritations (?), I sensed plenty of clear Fixin attributes. On that evening a very decent ***** Pinot Noir (and of course the triumphator of the evening)!

Domaine Jean-Paul Magnien Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers 1er Cru 1999, Chambolle-Musigny

To the beginning I saw an ordinary bright red hue in my glass. A surprisingly faint one. But vital seeming. The nose impression was very fresh for a Chambolle-Musigny from 1999. I got fragrances of raspberries, morning dew and mute moist limestone. Not too complex, but very pleasing. The first palatal impression was quite dominated by almost sheer and vital acid. A lot for such an age! Luckily this rather acidic impression eased (not vanished!) within a couple of hours. Then, I might describe this slight over-proportionated acid as very lively and fresh. Perhaps even a bit cheery! The fruit was balanced and not all too expressive, but absolutely fine. The texture was surely silky and not really challenging. For me a decent **** Pinot Noir without a lot of clear Chambolle-Musigny terroir relating potential. Besides its lightness, there wasn’t a lot of elegance, floral character and distinct finesse going on. Nevertheless a fine and reasonably priced wine!

Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Stellenbosch

As always a pretty earthed, rather tart and serious Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch. Very spicy, very black peppery, vested with a considerable amount of green herbs, plenty of black olives, tobacco (of course) and not so much typical Cabernet fruit anymore (traces of dark, slightly dried, cherries and a few cassis impressions left). Surely a bit rugged, a bit savage and reckless Cabernet Sauvignon (for the alleged "New World"). Really good balance, still impressive structure, very present tannin backbone and very decent ***** finish. A Cab I'd always recommend! Very reasonable, too!

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