Monday, March 12, 2012


Pali Huntington Pinot Noir

Pali Wine Company specializes in making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in their Lompoc, California facility.  Their Pinots are made from grapes grown in what their website refers to as “top locations” - California’s Sonoma Coast, Sta. Rita Hills AVAs and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Founders Tim Perr and Scott Knight hail from the coastal SoCal community of Pacific Palisades, which is why their wines are named after neighborhoods there.

Pali plans to increase their production this year, and open a tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara, too.  They were kind enough to provide some samples for the purpose of this article.

I wrote about the Pali Riviera Pinot recently.  It was a Sonoma Coast product, while the Huntington is made from Santa Barbara County grapes.  The wine is aged for ten months in 30% new French oak barrels.  It sells for $21 and sports a 14.6% alcohol content.

The Huntington's dark purple color is a precursor to a nose that is amazing.  There's cassis up front, and further sniffing reveals aromas of chocolate syrup, coffee and spiced tea in a remarkably fresh and vibrant setting.  Smelling this wine is really a treat.  The palate shows ripe, dark fruit.  Black cherry and dark plums leap right out, with faint coffee notes and a finish of black cherry cola which hangs around quite a while.  The tannins are nice and firm - it's not a shy wine, and it may not be for Pinot purists.  There's a Syrah-like quality to it - that's how big and rich the Huntington drinks.

The wine is so big - even by California standards - I sent an email asking for verification that it was actually 100% Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Aaron Walker replied:

"The 2010 Huntington (and all Pali Pinots for that matter) is 100% Pinot Noir. We have never blended any other varietals into any of our pinots.

"Most of our 2010 pinots are very big and fruit forward - it was the late heat at the end of the growing season that produced this style. The 2010 summer/growing season was very cool, with very little significant heat until late September and early October when we saw two big heat waves. In most cases this caused the grapes to ripen (almost to the point of being over ripe) very rapidly. This resulted in wines that are big, jammy and very fruity. I can see why you might think there is some syrah in this wine - but truly it is 100% pinot noir from vineyards in Santa Maria Valley and Sta Rita Hills.

"And if you think that wine is big, you should try our 2010 Summit - 100% Sta Rita Hills pinot noir - it is massive!"

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