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In Pursuit of Balance tasting, San Francisco



A lovely tasting today at In Pursuit of Balance, really the best they’ve ever had. The venue was new: City View, in the Metreon Center, instead of RN74 like it was the last time I went. And what a crowd! This was clearly the buzziest place to be today if you were anywhere near San Francisco.

It’s impossible to taste everything, but I did get to quite a few Pinot Noirs, mostly 2012s. In general, you can say that this is a generous vintage, yielding balanced, supple and frankly delicious wines of great structure, although in a few cases, the acids were too fierce. The best of them need age. Here are a few standouts:

Domaine de la Cote. I have not been a fan of the 2011s which were green, but 2012 was a great success. The Bloom’s Field (12.5%) is sleek and streamlined, with a core of raspberries. It needs time.

Sandhi. Their ’12 Sanford & Benedict (13.5%) is a real beauty, charming and supple.

Knez. This was a new winery for me, out of Anderson Valley. The ’12 Demuth (13.3%) and ’12 Cerise (about 13.3%) both are gorgeous, the former tight, the latter more generous. Both need time.

Hirsch. First, it was good to hear that David is back at work! The ’12 East Ridge (13%) is powerful but delicate, with awesome structure. The ’12 Reserve (13.1%) is a wine I’d describe as Burgundian, with mushroom and tea notes to the raspberry core. Both wines need time.

Au Bon Climat. The 2011 Knox Alexander (13.1%) is huge in flavor, explosive in raspberry essence, yet gorgeously structured and dry. It certainly needs 5-6 years in the bottle.

Wenzlau. Another new winery for me. The Estate Santa Rita Hills (13.0%) is very acidic, almost lemony, with with solid raspberry-cherry fruit. I would give it six years.

Kutch. A pair of 2013s, the Sonoma Coast (12.3%) and the Rohan Vineyard (12.3%), from the Bohan-Dillon area of Fort Ross-Seaview. Two great wines. The former is delicate, the latter more potent and dramatic. I would cellar the Rohan for six years.

Native9 2011 Rancho Ontiveros (13.4%). A great success for the vintage, pale in color, lots of acidity, plenty of finesse. Drinking beautifully now.

Here are a few pictures of some old friends.

SashiSashi Moorman pouring. Raj Parr in background.

ClendenenJim Clendenen, one of the immortals

StevieStevie Stacionis, of Bay Grape in Oakland

CarloCarlo Mondavi. Sorry you have to crane your neck!

 JamesJames Ontiveros, Native9 and Rancho Ontiveros

EhrenEhren Jordan, of Failla

  1. As nice as the Pinots were that I tried…it was the many, many stunning Chardonnays that made the tasting for me. Matthaisson, Liquid Farm, Hanzell, Failla…on an on.

  2. Bob Henry says:

    Is it just me, or is Jim Clendenen over time increasingly looking more and more like Robert Plant?

    (Or am I getting it backwards: is Robert Plant over time increasingly looking more and more like Jim Clendenen?)

  3. Bob Henry says:

    Fast forward one year later . . . 2016:

    I attended the IPOB trade tasting in Los Angeles on Monday.

    Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs were the featured grape varieties.

    Vintages 2013 and 2014.

    Elevated levels of acidity were evident in the wines. More than a few were outright tart, and lacked a satisfying “richness” and “plumpness” in the mouthfeel.

    (If you are a Pinot enthusiast and have some historical experience, think back to those 1990s decade Williams Selyem single vineyard bottlings by way of example. A style not in evidence here.)

    Will these IPOB wines make “old bones”? I predict they will “survive” over time.

    But will they “improve” over time? I have my doubts.

    I fear the fruit may “dry out,” exposing even more of their acidic mantle.

    (I am finding this right now drinking Oregon Pinot Noirs from the 1990s.)

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