2010 Chad Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve
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4.00 out of 5 stars! & Sommelier Michael Madrigale Chad and America's #1 Sommelier

The 2010 vintage was extraordinary for Pinot Noir in the coolest quadrant of Carneros. The mild growing season provided for extended hang time -- essential to the phenolic maturity of the world's most ethereal variety. Solid Carneros addresses put out "pretty" wines. But, the top names of the appellation would rank this among the finest vintages in decades.

The problem with these wild cherry 2010s had nothing to do with quality, but with what Burgundians like to call "le probleme de trop peu." Yields were down nearly 30%. Prices rose accordingly. Bargain hunting seemed to be a thing of the past. Until Chad took us off guard.

We hadn't heard from our friend in a while. The talented young winemaker spends most of his time these days crafting Cabernet Sauvignon on the steep slopes of Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain. But, in 2009, he hatched the idea that would help dozens of top shelf wineries anonymously turn stuck inventory into quick cash.

"Chad" took WineAccess by storm before spreading like wildfire to Manhattan's hottest gastronomic addresses. Before the glut became a shortage, we treated thousands of members to some of the most stunning Pinot Noir bargains of that time -- each sold at half price under the "Chad" label, so as to protect the brand of the maker.

But when Chad called in November 2011, the crisis was in the rearview mirror. As much as we'd come to trust Alexander, when he became strangely animated, describing his purchase of this single vineyard 2010 Pinot Noir "Reserve," we were openly skeptical. "Just send us samples," we said, tired of the razz-ma-tazz. A few days later, two bottles were on our desks.

The box was plain, FedEx's required Adult Signature sticker on full display. There were no labels on the bottles. The corks were unbranded. We put the "Reserve" in the Eurocave for three days, then we uncorked what would turn out to be the greatest Pinot Noir bargain of 2012.

Deepest ruby red in color, the aromas were textbook Carneros -- black cherry, red raspberry and sweet herbs. The attack was lush and juicy, filled with crushed red berry opulence. The finish was bright, vibrant and piercing. We called Chad and told him we'd not only take all he could give us … but more for Redux.

That's when Alexander again reminded us of his most important commitment. "After Michael Madrigale," Chad said, "you guys come first."

First, congrats to Michael for being named America's Top Sommelier by Wine Enthusiast. If you're going to NYC over the next months, stop into Bar Boulud or Boulud Sud to see Madrigale in action.

The Philly boy turned Som-to-the-Stars is almost as charming as his nose is refined. A couple years back, Madrigale discovered "Chad." He never looked back.

Tasting Notes

2010 Chad Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve
"Bright dark ruby to the edge with gorgeous aromas of wild cherry and small red fruits, tinged with sweet herbs. Rich, juicy and vibrant on the attack, packed with black cherries and plum, perfectly bracketed by the fine cool vintage backbone that so distinguishes 2010. Drink now for its primary fruit beauty, or still better, age for 3-5 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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