2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Sampler 6-Pack
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The Vines of Evening Land 92pt Pinot Noir Sampler: Living on the Edge

When Marc Tavlov, Stolpman winemaker Sashi Moorman, and world-class sommelier Rajat Parr teamed up to plant this 40-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in the westernmost reaches of the Sta. Rita Hills, many were skeptical. At the western edge of the appellation, just a few minutes from Lompoc, summer highs rarely reach 75 degrees. Lows dip into the high 40s. Would the Pinot Noir really ripen?

Planted to unusually tight spacing, pitting one plant against the next in a treacherous game of Survival of the Fittest, anyone who knew anything about growing Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 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, given the chilly climes and the rigor of the farming protocol, two tons would qualify as a windfall.

"We knew we were living on the edge," Moorman told us. "But in order to make great wine in Santa Barbara, you're obliged to flirt with disaster. Raj was sold on the site. So were Mark and our (famous Meursault-maker) Dominique Lafon. Me? 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, there was little concern. But here, just a couple miles from the Pacific, one vintage in five is a washout. Parr and Moorman hoped they wouldn't be out of business before they got started.

"2010 was the coolest growing season on record," Moorman said. "We were three weeks behind in mid-August, and were already starting to think about pink wine. Then the heat spikes came in early September, jumpstarting the maturation cycle. In fact, the spring rain ended up being a life saver, as the underground water reserves kept the vines from suffering hydric stress. After that, it was clear sailing."

When the turquoise skies finally arrived in late September, bathing the Santa Barbara coastline in sunshine, the edgiest Pinot Noir planting on the coast rebounded. At harvest, the clusters were small, strewn with sweet, seedless 'shot' berries. Sugars were perfect, but even more importantly acids were electrifying, with pH barely reaching 3.3!

If your palate preference is for the softer, heavy Pinots drawn from the warmer climes of Russian River Valley, these may not be for you. But if you're a Burgundian at heart, few under-$40 coastal Pinot Noirs can match these brilliant 2010 Evening Land Pinot Noirs for their combination of vivid red raspberry juiciness and riveting Cote de Nuits vibrancy.

92 and 90 points respectively from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Tasting Notes

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

2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Bloom's Field Sta. Rita Hills
"One of the more delicate wines in the lineup, the 2010 Pinot Noir Bloom's Field possesses lovely aromatic complexity, but less depth in its fruit to back it up. Today, the Bloom's Field appears to be best suited for near and mid-term drinking given its moderate overall depth. Winemaker Sashi Moorman crafted the Bloom's Field from fully destemmed fruit. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020."
90 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate


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