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Friday, September 2, 2016

Blind Man’s Bluff – The Consistency of Wine Writers

In blind tasting through a new vintage of Patz & Hall wines I came back to a specific Pinot Noir in their portfolio; one that seemed familiar and trustworthy. It was a Pinot Noir, but P&H make 8 different Pinot Noirs so how do I know this one was so recognizable? The Pinot Noir was made from Hyde Vineyard, located in Carneros. Patz & Hall makes single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Hyde and has been doing to since 1996. I’ve had many of their wines, but I knew this wine. I’ve tasted it many times before and it was stored in my memory bank. Now, I taste thousands of wines each year, as a professional wine judge, wine writer and wine buyer (Montecito Village Grocery), so why did this stick out? Well, this is what a wine writer actually does – gets to know wines across vintages, soil types and the influence of weather changes. Though I hadn’t seen the label, I was familiar with this wine – it was identifiable, it was from Hyde. “When the grapes come into our winery from Hyde,” says winemaker and co-founder James Hall, “It’s almost like we hear trumpets blare.” And co-founder Donald Patz added, “We just did a tasting of 12 vintages of our Hyde Vineyard Pinot dating back to 1996 and it’s amazing how poised and hauntingly delicate that debut vintage still is.” Of course, you might expect him to say something like that; after all it is his wine. But I have no vested interest in Patz & Hall wines. I’m just scouring the globe for great wines. And the 2014 Hyde Pinot from Patz & Hall is all blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, rich pomegranate, black cherry, cedar and a great acidity. As I have gone through notes that I have written about past vintages and compared those with current lines from the same producer I routinely see, as is true of many of my wine colleagues, is that our pallets are consistent. What's cool about the Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir is that too is consistent – it is one of those wines that’s a slam-dunk and you won’t go wrong. 1,050 cases were made, my friends. Yes, it’s about $75, and yes, I think it’s worth it. PATZ & HALL

ORIGIN: Carneros, California
PRICE: $75/ 750ML

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