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Garys’ Vineyard 2004 Horizontal Tasting

On March 15, 2009, the Ides of March, I was invited to a horizontal tasting of 2004 Pinot Noirs from Garys’ Vineyard located in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wines were bought soon after release and well-cellared. There were sixteen wines, one from every producer that year except Truckee River Winery.

Garys’ Vineyard is owned by partners Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni (that is why the vineyard is called Garys’ and not Gary’s), and was planted in 1997 to Pisoni clone Pinot Noir and Syrah. The vineyard totals 50 acres and is located 7-8 miles north of the Pisoni Vineyard in a slightly cooler area. (see www.garysvineyard.com for a map of the vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands). Spacing is 6x8 and 5x8 on VSP Bilateral trellising with 1089 and 908 vines per acre. The soil is Arroyo Seco sandy loam. The climate is marine with strong coastal winds blowing off Monterey Bay in the afternoon. Average summertime high temperatures are in the mid 70s. There are currently 19 wineries sourcing fruit from Garys’ Vineyard.

Many of the wines featured aromas of black cherries, baking spices and sandalwood. The tannins were soft in all the wines. Alcohols were quite high with eleven of the wines at 14.8% or higher and the alcohol was evident in many of the wines. The biggest fault was a perceived lack of acidity causing the wines to age quickly. If you have any 2004 Pinot Noirs from Garys’ Vineyard, drink up now. With a couple of exceptions, the wines did not appreciably benefit from five years of aging.

2004 A.P. Vin Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., screw cap. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color. Scents of cherries, sandalwood, oak char and barnyard (? Brett). Rich brown-sugared fruit with lively acidity and gossamer tannins.

2004 La Rochelle Garys‘ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.0% alc.. Winemakers Tom Stutz and Claude Bobba. · Slightly hazy with a hint of orange coloring on the rim. Rather flat nose with some faint fruit, oak and spice. Tasty black cherry core elegantly presented with a satiny texture and good alcohol integration.

2004 Loring Wine Company Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., screw cap. · Aromas of black cherries, blackberries, oak, barnyard and alcohol. Rich and full-bodied cherry and berry flavors with oak in the background. Fresher than many wines in the lineup.

2004 Lucia Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc.. · Fairly deep reddish-purple color. Fresh and pure aromas of black cherries. A masculine wine that retains notable oak but the black cherry core remains impressive and the alcohol remains submerged.

2004 Marguerite Ryan Cellars Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.1% alc., 57 cases. · Moderately light garnet color. Shy, delicate aromas of black cherries. An elegantly styled wine with no detectable tannins. Flavors of black cherries, spice, oak and brioche with a smooth texture. Faint whiff of alcohol on the nose and finish.

2004 Miner Family Vineyards Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.3% alc.. · Bouquet of aged aromas including root beer, cola and leather with a sniff of alcohol. Medium-weighted flavors of berries and cola with a smooth mouthfeel secondary to melted tannins.

2004 Miura Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.. · Deep reddish-purple color. Volatile acidity and diaper on the nose. Rich, full bodied dark cherry and berry fruit with hints of root beer and brown sugar.

2004 Morgan Garys‘ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.. · Flamboyant aromas of ripe and exotic berries which faded slowly in the glass. Ripe cherry flavored with a taste of root beer and some citrus on the back end. The tannins have completely faded.

2004 Roar Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc.. · Attractive aromas of rich, ripe black cherries, root beer and sandalwood. Rich black cherry fruit core with notable oak. Still retaining some tannin. Some ash shows up on the finish which leaves a little heat in its wake.

2004 Siduri Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.. · Deep garnet color. Rich and ripe scents of black cherries and raspberries. A hedonistic style that retains plenty of sweet fruit richness and has shed all of its tannins. Stacked and packed with fruit with admirable balance for such a big-boned wine.

2004 Surh Luchtel Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

Lovely aged aromas of baking spices, apples, seasoned oak and sandalwood. Discreetly concentrated cherry core with a hint of root beer flavor. The tannins have melted away. Best wine in the lineup.

2004 Tantara Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.1% alc.. · Very strange aromas like fresh paint. Completely over the hill with no fruit evident, leaving behind flavors of root beer and dark ale.

2004 Vision Cellars Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.4% alc.. · Moderately dark-purple color. Nicely appointed aromas of black cherries, spice and wildflowers. Thick flavors of black cherries and cola with a silky but firm texture and a touch of astringency on the finish.

2004 Waltzing Bear Wines Garys‘ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.1% alc.. · Brett in the nose with faint scent of raisins. Black cherry and baking spice flavors. Plenty of finishing acidity.

2004 Martin Alfaro Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $27. · Shy fruit with scents of black cherry, roasted nuts and a vague funkiness. The fruit tastes like raisins and fermented cherries. Unpleasant.

2004 Testerossa Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $45. · Delicate ruby color. A feminine style with fruit that has faded leaving alcohol to peak out on the nose and finish. Some notes of baking spices and sandalwood add interest.

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