2010 Chad Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve
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Carneros Chad Pinot Noir Reserveā€¦and the "Done Deal"

As many of you now know, the 2010 vintage was extraordinary for Pinot Noir in the cool 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, elegant wines. The best of the appellation would call the vintage one of the finest in decades.

The problem, of course, with these 2010s was what the Burgundians like to call "le probleme de trop peu." Yields were down nearly 30%, and after the similarly short 2009 season, it seemed every drop would go out at prices all too similar to the glory days of 2007 -- something that made us a bit queasy.

So when Chad Alexander called us in November last year to tell us that he'd 'scored' on a stunning 2010 Pinot Noir from 'one of the biggest names around,' we were skeptical.

We hadn't heard from Chad in a while. The talented young winemaker, who spends most of his time crafting Cabernet Sauvignon on the nosebleed slopes of Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain, had launched one of the more novel brands of the crisis years. You may recall the story of the Napa Valley BBQ of 2009 -- in the midst of the economic storm -- when Chad learned that many of his winemaker friends felt their jobs were in jeopardy if backed up inventory wasn't magically turned into cash. A few months later, Alexander launched "Chad," a brand that started quietly in Napa before spreading like wildfire to NYC and the white tablecloths of Boulud Sud and Bar Boulud. Over the course of the next two years, we treated thousands of members to some of the more stunning Pinot Noir bargains of that time -- each purchased from top pedigree producers, but carrying a "Chad" label so as to protect the brand of the maker.

But this wasn't 2009 or 2010. Chad's call came at the tail end of 2011, when it seemed that no excellent Pinot Noir producer was discounting modestly, let alone selling off single vineyard 2010s at less than half price. Still, we listened. Then we asked Alexander to FedEx us a bottle. A few days later, Fred showed up with two bottles. There were no labels. The corks were unbranded. But that 2010 Pinot Noir "Reserve" was an absolute knockout.

Deepest ruby red in color, the aromas were of textbook Carneros black cherry. The attack was lush, filled with raspberries and wild cherry, with opulent density and an extended finish. That 2010 Pinot Noir was brilliant, and when Chad followed our call to him with a two-word email -- "Done Deal" -- we began writing today's missive. A few days later, we were ready to roll when we received the follow up email that only confirmed our initial skepticism.

So began what turned out to be the longest rollercoaster in WineAccess history, punctuated by a half dozen fiscal and legal stops and starts. In March, again we thought the deal was sealed and quickly returned to the work we'd begun in November. A week later, Chad was once more stuck in the mud of NDAs and legalese. The Pinot Noir was spectacular -- worth every nickel of the $42 price tag the same bottle would sport under the winery's own label -- but we'd hit the wall. We called Chad on a rainy day in April and let him have it. We'd had enough, we told Alexander, even if we knew we'd killed the deal in doing so. Or so we thought.

The email from Chad Alexander hit our inbox at 2:32pm (late morning PST) on September 27th. Again the message was brief, but this time, somehow, we believed what was written. "Sorry. Done Deal. Run it." And so we are.

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

*Important Shipping Information
    • Orders will begin shipping the week of October 15, 2012.
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