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TN:1983 Calera Reed


Craig Camp
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Calera Pinot Noir, Reed, 1983

Brilliant translucent scarlet orange. Expansive, elegant aromas filled with very ripe dark fruits and earthy saddle leather notes. Full of spices, cinnamon. Full, rich, broad mouth-filling flavors. Ripe fruit very apparent on the palate but with very complex other flavors - spices, earth, wood, leather. The finish is stunning, complex and long - warm with just a hint of tannin at the end. Absolutely coats your mouth.

An outstanding wine at its peak. The best California Pinot I can remember tasting.

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I have had the pleasure to drink many of Josh's wines over the years. I know it may not be fashionable but for me these are the most interesting California Pinots because of the characteristics you describe. All age well but perhaps Reed the most gracefully.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me Josh Jensen has retained his passion and still makes the most interesting Pinot in California. I can only think that the problems you have referred to are a storage issue. As far as I know there were no general problems with his releases.

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I'm having a hard time believing this one (not that I think Craig is lying.) But 20 year old Ca. pinot noir? And it lasted? I can't find a Ca. PN that i think is any good to begin with save for one that is 20 years old.

I am certain that I don't need to point this out to you, but Calera makes wines that age very well. With your extensive tasting experience of this winery, please let us know which of the single vineyards you prefer and which one ages the best.

Perhaps you could provide us with your tasting notes on this wine as some other older Pinots to back up your comments?

The fact that you cannot find one California Pinot Noir that is any good is enlightening.

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I do not think I had a storage problem with Calera because he was shipping directly from his winery to the Bay Area to my cellar. I vaguely remember that he had a drought problem in the late 80s. I heard that he does not like to give free wines and hence the journals do not promote him((and he plays good tennis!). In the end who cares? Here is a guy who is very talented and passionate and principled and he impressed the likes of Jacques Seysses(Dujac).

By the way I had Reed 83 in the late 80s, long ago in a Napa restaurant, and my then girlfriend was so impressed with it that she saw me in a different light and agreed to my proposal. :biggrin: I am glad to hear that it is still doing well.

As to the ageability of Pinots: it is a hit and miss game, more miss in CA than in France but when it is a hit it is a HIT. Too bad that the CA hierarchy changed so much. I had good old Hanzell, Mount Eden, a name I can not remember(who was an airline pilot but passed away)etc. Some Kalin cellars were touted as DRC level when they came to the market and (apparently they were manipulated wines which fooled the experts). Now they are too astringent and nothing else. Some Kistler and Marcassin Pinots are receiving stellar scores and I reserve my judgment. Overall the market is not too imperfect and CA PNs do not disappoint when one considers how much they cost.

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Well they all taste like bubblegum. I mean I am exagerating but not really. I honestly don't know how anyone who has tasted good wines from Burgundy can still like California pinot? It's the same for Central Coast Rhone wines when compared to wines from the Rhone. You can buy a nice Rhone wine like Allain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage for something like $22. And then Ojai single vineyard Syrahs cost $60. You have to be a nutjob to buy the Ojai. At least with Burgs I can understand the desire to buy Ca pinots because the price of a good Burg is not cheap. Still, you can buy the good Gevry's in the $60 range and wines like Dujac Clos de la Roche can be found for aound $90. I would rather buy one of those wines then three bottles of Ca. pinot. In fact I'd rather drink beer then buy Ca. pinot. And I used to collect and drink them on occassion. But they are truly an inferior product compared to their French counterparts. Of course this has nothing to do with Calera and its ageability. But then again, I'm a non-believer.

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But they are truly an inferior product compared to their French counterparts.

then don't compare them. they're more than just "pinot", more than just two kinds of expressions of the same varietal. california syrah has so little in common with the northern rhone (thank goodness). so what good does it do you to compare the two? other than just support your determination to not like california pinot? i don't think of pinot when i think of the jensen vineyard fruit. i'm going to get a good thrashing for this, but calera pinot can be transcendant. get one and taste it.

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california syrah has so little in common with the northern rhone (thank goodness).

Yes one is good and one is like soda pop.

so what good does it do you to compare the two? other than just support your determination to not like california pinot?

I would love to like Ca. pinot. But it isn't good. That's not exactly a small problem you know. But it's not like I am alone in comparing them.

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Well they all taste like bubblegum. I mean I am exagerating but not really. I honestly don't know how anyone who has tasted good wines from Burgundy can still like California pinot? It's the same for Central Coast Rhone wines when compared to wines from the Rhone. You can buy a nice Rhone wine like Allain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage for something like $22. And then Ojai single vineyard Syrahs cost $60. You have to be a nutjob to buy the Ojai. At least with Burgs I can understand the desire to buy Ca pinots because the price of a good Burg is not cheap. Still, you can buy the good Gevry's in the $60 range and wines like Dujac Clos de la Roche can be found for aound $90. I would rather buy one of those wines then three bottles of Ca. pinot. In fact I'd rather drink beer then buy Ca. pinot. And I used to collect and drink them on occassion. But they are truly an inferior product compared to their French counterparts. Of course this has nothing to do with Calera and its ageability. But then again, I'm a non-believer.

Why don't we argue over which beer now?

It seems Steve that you live life like the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. Monocromatic. The rest of us are happy to live in Oz tasting flavors from around the world with pleasure.

Do you realize how bitter you sound?

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Bitter, who is bitter? And monochromatic you must be joking. I am pointing out that the stuff is usually junk. What does pointing out that Ca, wines are one dimensional fruit bombs that do not show terroir have to do with my disposition? I don't understand why anyone would have the time or the inclination to drink a Ca pinot when you can drink a D'Angerville Clos des Ducs? Or a Meo-Camuzet Vosne-Romanee Brulees. Or countless other wines I can name? Or central coast Rhone wines. You know I bought 1998 Chateauneufs like Les Cailloux and Clos Mont Olivet for $16 a bottle. Why when you can drink those wines would you bother drinking Babcock?

Varied schmarried, I want to drink good wine. Not plonk for two to three times the price. And if you want to refute my opinion about this, I don't see how you can do that by commenting on how I live my life? Which you neither know anything about, nor is appropriate to comment on even if you did know. Keep the conversation to wine please.

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It depends what you are in the mood for - sometimes I prefer Die Hard with my sandwich while other nights I like to live it up and have it with Citizen Kane (when I do this I always add fresh rucola), but I usually don't tell 'serious' collectors this because they never like action movies with any dish.

Sometimes I get wild and crazy and try a really adventurous match like Osso Buco with Last Tango in Paris or Roman Holiday with Ris de Veau. The other day I had Vita e Bella with a Cheeseburger (with Heinz of course), who would have thought that would be a good match - it was sublime.

Sometime rules are made to be broken.

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Matching wine with the right movie is a much harder thing than either matching movie with food or matching wine with food. :raz: Here are some recent pairings:

Band a Part(Godard) with Thevenet Morgon

Piano Teacher(Haneke--sado-masochism)Woody and bubble-gum Ca chard.

8 women(Ozon) with young Meo Parentoux(keeps changing in the glass)

My Son's Room(Moretti--sad but really deep) with 61 Conterno Monfortino

Talk to Her(Almodovar-tasty, grandiose, gimmicky) with $400 CA cab.

Lady and the Duke(Rohmer at his "reactionary" but very classy) w. 61 Latour

My Big Fat Greek Wedding(Oh so nice plot) with Turley Zin

Leopard(Visconti) with Biondi Santi Brunello from the first half of the century.

More pairing ideas welcome!(should we start a discussion group on this?)

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And it can only be Retsina with My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I take my hat off to this suggestion. I had Retsina, and it made a lasting impression.

I have Vega Sicilia, but I'm still waiting to uncork it. Does anybody know how it is doing?

Also, I need some urgent advice. Upon the positive comments received by Adaptation (I haven't seen it yet), I checked out Being John Malcovich, by the same team. This will be seen on our tete-a-tete dinner on Friday with Mrs. M. Any compatible wine suggestions???

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For Adaptation you need a very neurotic wine. One that doesn't know what it wants to be. One that keeps changing back between closed, then shows flashes of brilliance, then shuts down again. Almost a schizoprhenic wine. I'm not sure a wine like that exists. But try and find a wine with a bizarre finish.

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I haven't seen the movie, but perhaps the infamous Overnoy would be a good match.

On California Pinot, I confess that I've never tasted one that made much of an impression beyond grapeyness and oak, although I am open to suggestion and will keep my eyes open for Calera.

You never know. Case in point: I generally don't enjoy California Syrah that much, (especially after I saw what you can get for your dollar ex cellar in Ampuis), but I have been wowed by the Edmunds St. John bottlings from the Durrell and Wylie Fenaughty vineyards, and they are priced unobscenely in the $20-$30 per bottle range retail.

There is a place for new world wines in my cellar. I find that they often drink better younger than many old world wines, and they often offer a richness of fruit that is sometimes what I want. I also think that in the hands of the right producer like a Paul Draper, Steve Edmunds or Mike Dashe, California fruit can be made into a wine that is uniquely expressive of its place and just plain yummy. That being said, with the exception of some older Ridge Montebello, I don't believe I have spent more than $50 for a New World wine in the last couple of years, and yet I rarely think twice about throwing stupid amounts after something like a Rousseau, Roumier, Dujac, Roty or Mugnier at auction.

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