Pali Wines at Artisan Wine Depot

Joanie Hudson pouring tastes

Our favorite local wine shop, Artisan Wine Depot, hosted a tasting of Pali wines on June 21.  We hurried over in anticipation of a delightful event.  We were not disappointed — Pali put together an interesting, varied selection of two chardonnays and seven pinot noirs.  Here we’re only going to review our four favorites among the pinots.

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Hosted by the delightful Joanie Hudson (Western Regional Sales Manager), the setting was the tasting room at Artisan.  We were pleased to see that the sales counter at the front of the store was mobbed. What’s good for them is good for us. But we’re here to talk about Pali Wines at Artisan Wine Depot.

The two chardonnays were both 2011 Sonoma Coast varietals.  The “Charm Acres” ($21 but sold out according to the website) opened with delightful, unexpected roasted pear aromas.  The grapefruit-citrus flavors served as a palate cleanser.  The “Durell Vineyard” ($30 according to the tasting notes) opens with aromas of ripe melon, followed by honeydew and pineapple.

The first pinot was the “Riviera” 2010 Sonoma Coast ($21).  The color has brownish tints, but that should not put anyone off.  This is good stuff.  Aromas of damp earth, forest floor and mushroom.  Concentrated ripe black berries explode on the palate, moving into nuances of fresh raspberries. A long, amazing caramel – butterscotch finish closes the show in spectacular fashion.

Up next was the “Huntington” 2011 Santa Barbara County ($22.50). We rate this the bargain of the tasting. Aromas of crushed rock,  pepper and cherry followed by flavors of blackberries and plum held with a peppery finish closer to a zinfandel.  We brought home a bottle to have with our spicy dinner Friday night. (Chicken in lime-chipotle marinade for anyone who is interested.)

The “Summit” 2011 Santa Rita Hills ($29) begins with aromas of fresh crushed raspberries, and nuances of white pepper. Flavors feature more white pepper, limestone and minerality.

The “Bluffs” 2011 Russian River Valley ($22.50) presents aromas of earthy mushroom, black cherry with nuances of cedar. This is a straightforward pinot noir with no pretensions. On the palette, lush tannins give way to red fruits.

The Pali website has an unusual organization.  To find 2011 vintages that are not single-vineyard designates, click here. For single-vineyard wines click here.

About the author

Tony Lima has been a California wine fan since arriving in California from the east coast in 1974. He's lived the growth and expansion of the West Coast industry first hand. He's seen the fickle California Wine consumer fads pop up and burst... the craze for Zinfandel, then oaky Chardonnay, then Merlot, now Pinot Noir. On behalf of fellow Californian oenophiles, he hunts for great pinot noir and great values in pinot noir all along the West Coast. His day job is Professor of Economics at California State University located in Hayward. His undergrad degree in chemical engineering (MIT) and his MBA (Harvard) and Ph.D. Economics (Stanford) are the root of his interest in the Business of Wine. He is a card-carrying member of the AAWE - American Association of Wine Economists.

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