2011 Chad Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
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Anderson Valley Half-Price 90pt Pinot Noir -- Under Another Name

Over the last several years, Chad Alexander has wowed WineAccess and many of the top sommeliers in NYC with his single-vineyard CHAD Pinot Noirs. How to explain all the plush red fruit concentration and cool-climate vibrancy at under $20/bottle? Easy. Each of the CHAD Pinots we've featured would also be found on fine wine retail shelves sporting a far more recognizable blue-chip label -- while carrying a price tag twice that of CHAD.

As you may recall, each time we offered one of the CHAD Pinot Noirs, we were asked to sign NDAs, protecting the name of the actual winery. Today, that non-disclosure agreement carries even more weight than usual. In Manhattan sommelier circles, the maker of today's wine is one of the top five cool climate Pinot Noir producers on the coast. In the unusually chilly 2011 growing season in Anderson Valley, this one earned rave reviews from the most respected, not to mention stingiest, Pinot Noir critic in the world, Stephen Tanzer. Here's why.

"Because Anderson Valley is so cool, in warm years, the top wineries are consistently turning out the flashiest Pinot Noirs in the state," Alexander told us after we finally cut the deal in April, securing this luscious 12-barrel batch. "But it's in the cool vintages that the All Stars really shine. This guy may well be the best of all."

Anderson Valley represents just a small, 15-mile wide sliver of Mendocino County. The climate up here is cooled by brisk breezes off the Pacific. Steep hills and mountains surround rolling alluvial terraces. In 2011, a cool and wet spring pushed back budbreak and veraison. Summer temperatures never rose above 90 degrees. By the beginning of September, Chad explained, the vines were 2-3 weeks behind. But in the second week of the month, the mercury rose, moving into the mid-90s and jumpstarting maturity.

"In 2011, the vintage was made or broken in the beginning of October. Top growers had nursed their Pinot Noir to ripeness in the first week of the month, harvesting their vineyards quickly, given the late season risks. Their less rigorous neighbors lagged behind, and when the storm swept through the valley on October 10th, they were pretty much washed out." Chad swirled this bright ruby, wonderfully rich and flashy 2011 Pinot Noir in oversized Riedel. "Obviously, these guys had nothing to worry about on October 10th!"

The 2011 CHAD Anderson Valley may well be the most riveting Pinot Noir we've tasted yet from Chad Alexander. Bright ruby in color with piercing, high-toned aromas of Bing cherry and red raspberry, laced with sweet spices. Rich, juicy and plush on the attack, packed with crushed red fruit preserves, the finish is textbook Anderson Valley -- crisp, vibrant and persistent, arguing eloquently for a 3-5 year slumber in a cool cellar.

Tasting Notes

2011 Chad Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
"Deep ruby red. Piercing aromas of crushed red fruits and cherry, laced with sweet Asian spices. Juicy and high-toned on the attack, infused with luscious red currant and black cherry, tightly wound and vibrant. Finely textured with fine depth and length, wonderfully persistent on the finish, arguing for a 3-5 year slumber in a cool cellar. This is a beautiful 2011."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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