If you pardon the generalization for a second, you might agree that the prototypal Californian Pinot Noir may be big, lush and fruit-forward, lacking the complex, terroir-driven range of possibilities offered by Burgundy. Pinots from The Finger Lakes, on the other hand, in the hands of a good vintner, are firmly in the Burgundian camp. We may not have a good grasp of the region's terroir, but a single vineyard wine like this 2013 “Les Alliés”, (mostly) from vines from John Leidenfrost's vineyards, may start telling us their stories.
It is rumored that these vines may be Clos Vougeot clones, but no-one really knows. What Richard Rainey, wine grower and one of the partners at Forge Cellars, does tell me, though, is that these vines, many of them planted in the '80s (averaging 25 years old), give very ripe berries with incredibly thick skin.
We have enjoyed the “classique” in the past and it had become a weekday favorite in our home, until we couldn't find it anymore. We enjoyed this particular bottle over Thanksgiving in Vermont. What a revelation!
Per Rainey, 2013 was a warm and dry fall that benefited the pinots. The wine poured a light red. Dry on the palate, I sensed hints of smoke, leather, tobacco and fresh fruits on the beautiful bouquet. On the palate, notes of dried cherries and peaches interspersed the tannic structure, with a hint of spice on the finish. For wine this young it drinks remarkably. I'm curious to see how this will develop with some time in the cellar.
I look forward to seeing what the 2014s look like. (Hint: apparently, very exciting.)