Talley Vineyards' Top-Rated Under-$30 Pinot Noir in 30 Years
|Wine Advocate Top Pinots 2007-2011
When the pepper market was firm and cash was flowing, the family flag at Talley Farms fluttered triumphantly. But as Brian Talley recalls, in the tough years when the price of bell peppers plummeted and the bankers came calling, the flag didn't fly quite so high. Not surprisingly, among all the rock star Pinot Noir-makers on the coast, Talley stands alone as a downside player, never having forgotten the years when the family flag flew at half mast.
It's been almost 25 years since Jim Clendenen first introduced us to Rosemary's Vineyard Pinot Noir with an epic late-'80s bottle from Au Bon Climat. Adam Tolmach would soon follow suit at Ojai, grabbing every cluster the Talleys would sell to him. Bryan Babcock came next. Then Ken Volk at Wild Horse. While each bottle carried the cellar signature of its maker, all shared the explosive red-raspberry concentration and chiseled purity that has since become the trademark of Talley Pinot Noir.
By the turn of the century, the demand for Talley Pinot Noir — particularly off the Rincon and Rosemary's vineyards — far exceeded supply. It was about then that the family did what everyone always figured they'd do. Little by little, always courteously — though with equal conviction — Brian Talley eased out of most of those contracts, finally convinced of what the top winemaking names along the southern coast had known for a decade. Then he pushed the envelope in the vines like never before, throwing a massive farm workforce at what most consider to be the most manicured Pinot Noir planting this side of Vosne-Romanée. It wouldn't be long before Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer were camping out at Talley's cellar door.
From 2007-2009, Talley Pinot Noirs from Rosemary's Vineyard and Rincon Vineyard would garner an average of 94.5 points from Parker's Wine Advocate and Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, second only to Steve Kistler's Pinot Noir stable. But while fully aware of the skyrocketing prices fetched by the other five or six superstar Pinot Noir-makers on the coast, the guy who grew up trying to keep the Talley Farms flag flying high, always eschewed the market's inflationary trend.
Kistler's top bottles would go for $160. Mark Aubert's powerhouses would fetch $145. Luc Morlet would sell every drop of En Famille for $90 at the drop of a hat. And Peter Michael? If you're not already on the list, you might as well forget about it. As to Talley's Rosemary's and Rincon — by all critical accounts, two of California's top 10 Pinot Noirs — they continue to be offered to the Talley mailing list for a bargain $75 and $60 per bottle, respectively.
The 2012 Talley Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir is the finest release from Brian Talley since the voluptuous 2007. Brilliant dark-ruby to the rim, infused with chiseled aromas of black raspberry and black cherry, tinged with new-wood cedar. Rich, juicy and voluminous on the attack, packed with crushed red fruit preserves and sweet spices, finishing with beautifully delineated, high-toned tannins, arguing elegantly for 7-10 years of rest in a cool cellar.
92 points from Tanzer, the stingiest and most respected Pinot Noir critic in the world — the highest rating ever awarded to an under-$30 Pinot Noir in the 30-year history of the International Wine Cellar!
2012 Talley Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Arroyo Grande Valley
"Vivid ruby-red. Fresh red berry and rose scents show impressive clarity and energy. Sweet, pure and elegant in style, offering lively raspberry and spicecake flavors and a seamless, silky texture. Shows excellent focus and alluring spiciness on the finish, with fine-grained tannins adding shape and gentle grip. This graceful pinot is already delicious."
92 points -- Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
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