Wine Advocate’s top 2014 American Pinot Noir under $60
We first knocked on cellar doors in the Côte de Nuits in 1978, and we were greeted with open arms. Those were tough economic times, and even the likes of Roumier and D’Angerville were graciously receiving visitors. But as years passed and the world economy improved, Burgundy collectors were introduced to the basics of the law of supply and demand. Unlike Bordeaux, where châteaux produce thousands of cases of wine per year, the finest Pinot Noir in the world is made in tiny quantities, just a few barrels at a time. If our memories serve us well (always a question mark these days), the 1978 Roumier Bonnes-Mares was released at $50/bottle. The 2015 Bonnes-Mares will fetch $1,500!
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that we fell in love with Pinot Noirs on this side of the Atlantic. We began scheduling twice-a-year trips to Carneros, Russian River, and Santa Barbara. A handful of American winemakers were making enormous strides, including Steve Kistler, Peter Michael, and the team of Jim Clendenen and Adam Tolmach at Au Bon Climat. Unfortunately, much like the Grand Crus of Vosne-Romanée, California’s top single-vineyard Pinot Noirs were crafted in tiny quantities. Demand quickly outpaced supply.
Little has changed in California since, except continued pressure from the law of supply and demand. Prices for nearly all of the highest-rated coastal Pinot Noirs have pierced $100/bottle, much explaining why the 95-point Bien Nacido Vineyard Block 43 is the most astounding bargain in the back-to-back 2013 and 2014 vintages.
Last year we ran our first story about the “Foxen Boys” — Bill Wathen and Dick Doré — and their predilection for going for the gusto in both their whites and reds. While Foxen’s Chardonnays are some of the richest and most intense of the Sta. Rita Hills, the winery’s Pinot Noirs — particularly the minuscule production off of Bien Nacido Block 43 — push the envelope on ripeness and concentration.
The Wine Advocate was blown away by the explosively aromatic yet “ethereal” 2013 “Block 43,” describing it as “ultra-pure, elegant and beautifully precise,” and awarding it 95 points. But the 2014 is even more concentrated and rich, with slightly lower acidity and just a touch more new oak (40%). Parker’s publication called the 2014 “fabulous” and doled out yet ANOTHER 95-point score, making this The Wine Advocate’s top 2014 American Pinot Noir under $60.
The 2014 Foxen Bien Nacido Vineyard Block 43 is an unbelievable bottle of Pinot Noir, one that would hold its own in a Vosne Premier Cru taste-off in a ripe vintage like 2009. Explosive aromatically, bursting with distinct aromas of raspberry compote, black cherry, spice, and an elegant touch of new-wood. Rich, dense, concentrated, and almost creamy in its silken texture, certainly with Foxen’s signature New World opulence, while unquestionably light on its feet. Alcohol flirts with 14.5% without a sign of heat, finishing with serious depth and persistence. The Wine Advocate suggests an aging window of now through 2026; we’re not questioning it.
95 points from The Wine Advocate. Just 360 bottles of this tiny-production, single-block Pinot Noir have been earmarked for WineAccess. $56/bottle — the best price in the country — for a select few. Shipping included on 3 bottles or more.