We discovered Loring Wine Company at the 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands Gala. They specialize in pretty good pinot noir. When our friends at Artisan Wine Depot invited us to come taste the latest releases, we said, “Yes” almost immediately. We were not disappointed with Loring Wine Company’s visit to Artisan. (Note: all prices are Artisan shelf prices. Many of the wines we tasted are not available through the Loring website.) Brian and Kimberly Loring continue to produce high-quality wines at reasonable prices.
There were two chardonnays opening the show. We found the 2010 Durrell Vineyard Sonoma County ($44.99) too big and oaky for our taste. The 2010 Sierra Mar Santa Lucia Highlands ($35.99) was lighter and more to our taste. Flavors of white peach and caramel with just enough green apple and citrus acid to balance the wine.
Four Pinot Noir Blends
The first four pinots were 2013 blends from Santa Barbara County ($26.97), the Russian River Valley ($34.97), the Santa Lucia Highlands ($32.97), and the Santa Rita Hills ($30.97). The Santa Barbara was light with aromas of red raspberry and bing cherries. Spicy herbs marry strawberry flavors lead to a rose petal finish. We bought a couple of bottles of this goody. By contrast, the Russian River Valley was bigger, representative of the AVA. Aromas of cranberries and dried roses followed by black cherry, cedar on the palate. The finish featured blueberries, quite a surprise. But this pinot was too heavy for our taste.
The Santa Lucia Highlands was also on the big side. Bing cherries with floral notes on the nose followed by plenty of dark fruit. Again, this wine was too big for our taste.
But the Santa Rita Hills avoids the aromas and flavors we call “desert.” Earthy notes combine with spice flavors and an all-around lighter touch. We also bought two bottles of this one.
The four blends were followed by five single-vineyard offerings. The 2013 Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley ($42.97) opens with bright cherry aromas. More cherries on the palate as well as a hint of spice. This wine has intense flavors but still is light in your mouth, an austere French-style pinot. While we hesitate to call this wine a bargain it is reasonably priced for a pinot from this justifiably famous vineyard.
Next up was the 2012 Graham Family Vineyard Russian River Valley ($39.99). It’s rare for us to discover a new vineyard, but this was our first taste of the Graham Family fruit. Oak, spice and blackberry aromas followed by flavors of cherries and cola with just a hint of spice. This one was also too big for us.
The 2013 Cargassachi Santa Rita Hills ($44.97) greeted us with aromas of cocoa, coffee, licorice, and spice. Flavors of wild black raspberries and acidic cherries balance each other nicely. Powerful stuff. We have a long history of not particularly enjoying wine from this vineyard. Brian Loring did his best, but it’s not for us.
Rosella’s Vineyard 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands ($44.97) is another familiar name. This is a quintessential Santa Lucia Highlands pinot. Featuring a nice medium body, the aromas of black raspberries, red raspberries and rose petals blend nicely. Flavors of black cherries lead to an explosive caramel finish. This wine is very fruit-forward, perhaps too aggressive.
The last pinot was from Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($43.97). Garys’ is justifiably famous not only for terrific fruit but for being owned by two guys named Gary. Hence the plural possessive. Garys’ was planted in 1996 by two well-known Garys (Pisoni and Franscioni). This wine features huckleberry, forest floor, and floral notes on the nose. The wine itself is medium-bodied, but loses a bit of punch on the finish. Age it for a year or two and let it develop.
Brian and Kimberly Loring continue their excellent work in Lompoc.