In classical music terms, mezzo forte means to play the series of notes loud but not too loud, forcefully but with subtlety. The art of mezzo forte seems to be lost in our society—the times we live in tend to favor in-your-face sensory overload. At least in any big city. But the KYNSI Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir is made in Edna Valley, a sleepy and quietly beatific coastal winemaking town in San Luis Obispo, California. Time seems to stand still in this part of the Golden State—where the prevailing volume, in music terms, of the community’s environment is pianissimo (soft). In contrast, the prevailing character of the Pinot grapes that are sourced, from the iconic Bien Nacido vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Maria Valley, is rich and forward and robust thanks to nearly 40-year-old vines and a long growing season within a cool climate, as well as a distinctive, bold complexity derived from a variety of loam soils on the property. Combine the ethos of Edna Valley with Bien Nacido, and you get one of the most enchanting Pinot Noirs of Central Coast, California, delivered in a perfect mode of mezzo forte.
The 2012 Bien Nacido bottling from Kynsi starts quaint and pretty on the nose and transforms into layers of complexity on the palate—the balance and harmony of bold red cherry, hibiscus, rose and sweet baking spice notes within a medium-bodied texture is delivered so clean, precise and controlled, like a master pianist going through the canon of Chopin’s waltzes, preludes and mazurkas on a Steinway grand piano. Lots of passion comes through in the purity and transparency of the red wine, and its finish, like a sustained series of final chords, is melodiously lengthy and sentimental. Not to mention lip-smacking good. –J.M.