A fascinating aspect of anything involving artistic vision is that tastes change over time. Puccini’s opera La Boheme received tepid reviews when it premiered. It’s a Wonderful Life was a box office failure. When folk singer Bob Dylan played his song “Like A Rolling Stone” for the first time in front of a concert audience, they booed him. In the wine world, there was a time, not too long ago, when massive, highly concentrated fruit bombs were all the rage. These days, especially living in an age where everyone is in touch with their inner foodie, consumer tastes in wine are moving towards lighter, less alcohol level and more food friendly. Big and bold wines tend to dominate a meal, whereas lighter and silkier wines act as a companion to a fine meal.
Here is a Pinot Noir on the lighter side, at 13.9% alcohol, that is so pretty it might as well be Maria in West Side Story singing, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty . . .” Start with the lovely nose of dried rose petals, bright dark cherry, raspberry and Chinese black tea. On the palate it’s all silky, somewhat creamy, texture gliding along to a lengthy, softly tannic, succulent finish. This 2013 SPELL Alder Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir is light on its feet but substantial and evocative. Lively acidity contrasts with vivid and expressive fruit character. Flavor notes weave in and out mellifluously, creating a classic rendition of Mendocino County cool-weather Pinot that gets more memorable with each sip, like a great piece of music that takes a third listen before you fall in love with it. Impeccable balance and control, where no aspect is in excess. Oh, it’s so pretty. –J.M.