2007 Arcadian Winery Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
Expert Ratings
ST 91 points
RP 91 points
(Read the full reviews below)
 
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Arcadian The Wizard of Sleepy Hollow

It's one of the most talked about single-vineyard Pinot Noirs on the coast, the rare American Pinot that marries Burgundian elegance with the wild cherry vibrancy of the Santa Lucia Highlands coastline. Joe Davis's 10-acre patch set in the center cut of the undulating hillsides of Sleepy Hollow Vineyard isn't so much farmed -- it's manicured to Davis's standards. For almost 30 years, these ethereal Pinot Noirs have captured the imagination of the country's most passionate collectors and critics: Tanzer, Raynolds, Parker, Galloni, and Burghound's Allen Meadows.

Over the last fifteen years, Burghound has become late night reading for Pinot Noir aficionados from Tokyo to Central Park East. Meadows is well known for his tell-it-like-it-is criticism, never bashful about dropping low scores on esteemed names. So, when subscribers learned that Meadows was arranging a taste-off between California's and Burgundy's greatest Pinot Noirs, and had asked Joe Davis to bring Sleepy Hollow to the title bout, many wondered how Davis would respond.

Most California Pinot-makers, when told that their wines were scheduled to be matched up with the likes of Dujac and Roumier, would back off. Business is great for America's Pinot Noir darlings. Everyone's riding a hot streak. So, why step into the ring with Ali and Frazier?

Joe Davis continues to credit much of his success on the cellar magic he first observed in Burgundy, most prominently, chez Dujac. So, while the Wizard of Sleepy Hollow risked getting TKO'd in the first, Meadows knew Davis wouldn't walk away from the fight.

As it turned out, particularly in the great vintages (the finest to date, according to Davis, are 2001, 2005 and this extraordinary 2007), Joe Davis's Pinots never backed down, standing toe-to-toe with the champs. Davis would never claim to have wrestled away Dujac's title belt, but the best from Sleepy Hollow took a page right out of a Dujac playbook, offering up riveting red fruit gems that, like the master's Chambertins, argued for a decade or two of rest. Here's why.

"The soils of Sleepy Hollow are low in calcium," Davis explained to us at his Solvang home. "Low calcium leads to soft tannins. Ripeness has never been a problem at Sleepy Hollow, but if you wait too long to pick, acids drop off. In 2007, I made the call to pick early, doing everything possible to preserve acidity. Then I let Burgundian haute cuisine do the rest."

By September 5, 2007, after a gloriously dry, mild, turquoise sky summer, the Pinot Noir clusters at Sleepy Hollow sported unusually small, thick-skinned berries. The flavors were luscious. Acids were still firm. Some would wait three more weeks, until the last days of the month, to pick their Pinot Noir. But eight days before, every Arcadian bunch had already made it to the Wizard's cellar.

As always, Davis conducted whole-cluster fermentation, further buttressing Sleepy Hollow's luscious black cherries with cinnamon spice, black tea and sweet herbs. Once the wine made it into barrel -- all of which was French, and 35% new -- it would stay put for a whopping 28 months, before being bottled (unfiltered) in early 2010.

Its maker believes the 2007 Sleepy Hollow to be the richest, finest release in 28 years. It's hard to argue the point. Ruby red in color with piercing aromas of wild cherry, raspberry, spicebox and sweet herbs, enveloped in new wood velour. The attack is wonderfully pure, filled with ripe cherry, marvelously light on its feet and vibrant. But it's in the finish that Davis most offers his unique signature. Firm and bracing, with superb persistence, the patient will be paid hefty dividends.


Tasting Notes

2007 Arcadian Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
"Bright red. Complex, expressive nose combines crushed raspberry, wild strawberry, peppery spices and a touch of orange peel. Fresh, sweet and sharply delineated, with red fruit and herb flavors enlivened by notes of pepper and smoky minerality. Finishes with lovely finishing cut and fine-grained tannins that avoid dryness. This is very lively for a hot vintage."
91 points -- Steven Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

"The 2007 Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow wafts from the glass with sweet red cherries, crushed flowers, tobacco, mint, licorice and spices. This feminine, gracious Pinot is best enjoyed over the next few years, while the fruit retains its juiciness. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2017."
91 points -- Antonio Galloni, Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate


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