Last night we cracked open two bottles of pinot noir, both 2016 vintage. One was the Belden Barns Serendipity block. The second was Jack Creek Cellars Estate Reserve. The former is in the Sonoma Mountain AVA just east of Santa Rosa. Jack Creek is in the Westside district of the Paso Robles AVA. We are long-time club members of both these fine wineries. This is our Sonoma Mountain versus Westside Paso Robles 2016 vintage tasting competition.
At the outset, we’ll confirm your suspicions. Both these wines are terrific right now. The Belden Barns entry will probably improve a bit with one more year in the cellar. We’re old and impatient.
Both of these need time to breathe. Immediately after opening the bottles, each wine had excessive earthy notes both aromatically and on the palate. The Jack Creek developed in about 15 minutes. We decanted the Belden Barns to encourage it. To put it mildly, a little air was just what they needed.
The Jack Creek offering opened with aromas of cherries and spice. The palate is cherries and huckleberries with a solid underpinning of earthiness. The finish is long and exquisite with silky tannins and a nice acid balance.
Belden Barns opened with rose petals and cherries with a hint of brambleberry on the nose. The palate was more cherries with a solid spice base and a nice acid balance. You could easily cellar this for another year, but we suspect anything longer than that would be excessive.
Comparing the two led to an unusual result. We are accustomed to the idea that the further north the vineyard, the lighter the pinot (palate, not color). In this case, the Jack Creek was lighter. Once again the importance of microclimates shows itself. Norma preferred the Jack Creek while I liked the Belden Barns. Which makes for both a good tasting experience and a good marriage!