2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir Sampler 6-Pack
 
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The Vines of Evening Land 92pt Evening Land Pinot Noirs … and (questionable) Vassar Arithmetic

When they planted the 40-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in the westernmost reaches of the Sta. Rita Hills -- almost in Lompoc -- where summer temperatures rarely reach 75 degrees and nighttime lows dip into the high 40s, many wondered if the Vassar-educated Sashi Moorman, Rajat Parr and Mark Tarlov had forgotten how to use a calculator.

Planted to tight spacing, pitting one plant against the next in a growing season game of Survival of the Fittest, anyone who passed by who knew anything about growing Pinot Noir in the coldest quadrant of California's coast understood the underlying arithmetic. In the warmer parts of the Russian River Valley, growers can crop their Pinot Noir to 3-4 tons per acre. Down here, three tons is considered a windfall. But, with the combination of the location and the farming protocol on this experimental vineyard, Evening Land would struggle to bring in two. It just didn't pencil out.

"We knew we were on the edge," Moorman told us in the Lompoc Ghetto in April. "But all the great vineyards on the Santa Barbara coast flirt with disaster. Rich people have been planting Pinot Noir down here for decades, only to learn that they just aren't rich enough. Raj believed in what we were doing. So did Mark and our consulting winemaker Dominique Lafon. Truthfully? I wasn't sure."

The 2010 growing season got off to a slow start. Spring was cold and unusually wet. By June, the vines were already two weeks behind. On the warmer hills of Santa Ynez, or even at Moorman's Stolpman Vineyards in neighboring Ballard Canyon, few were concerned. But here, just a couple miles from the frigid Pacific, historically, only about one vintage in five is a washout. Parr and Moorman prepared for the worst.

"Looking back, it was the coolest growing season on record," Moorman said. "The two heat spikes in late August and early September jumpstarted the Pinot Noir, while the spring rain kept the vines from suffering hydric stress. After that, we were home free."

When the familiar turquoise skies finally arrived in late September, bathing the Santa Barbara coastline in sun, the edgiest Pinot Noir planting on the coast rebounded. The clusters were small at harvest, strewn with ultra-sweet, seedless "shot berries." Acids remained riveting with finished pH barely touching 3.3!

Moorman and Parr are recognized as two of the most daring winemakers in America. Their handling of the superb 2010 Evening Land harvest explains why. Recognizing not only the extraordinary natural concentration of the vintage, but the preponderance of seedless berries, the duo opted for whole-cluster fermentation, buttressing sweet Pinot Noir juiciness with highwire tension. While there is no evidence whatsoever of the greenness or sappiness that often mars whole-cluster coastal Pinots, Moorman credits the whole-cluster protocol for the pinpoint focus and delineation of the "Memorious" and Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs.

The good news? After three years of banging down the winery's cellar door, this is Evening Land's first cameo on WineAccess -- and Parr and Moorman are playing ball. The bad? With low yields resulting in ugly arithmetic in 2010, there's precious little to spread around.



Tasting Notes

2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Memorious Sta. Rita Hills
"The 2010 Pinot Noir Memorious shows great depth and textural volume. Expressive, perfumed notes are woven throughout the fruit, giving the wine much of its lift and aromatic complexity. There is a centeredness to the Memorious that is highly appealing. I love the purity and nuance of the aromas, flavors and textures. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills
"Evening Land's 2010 Pinot Noir is simply beautiful. Dark red cherries, pepper, spices and new leather inform this juicy, supple Pinot. There is an inviting, textural finesse that is alluring. Here, too, the minerality and energy are striking. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2018."
92 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

 

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