For the love of Pinot: Byron Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2007

I hope you loved that visit to Spain as much as I did, but a wine-writers work is never done. So, it's time once again boys and girls to hop back into the wine-wagon and head to back to comfy confines of California wine country. This time we are heading to another Pinot Noir hotspot in what is known as the Santa Maria Valley, which sits on the eastern border of Santa Barbara County. 
Byron produces seven different Pinot Noirs, but the SMV is the first one I've had the pleasure of tasting. I've sampled both their 07 and their 08 vintages. I would have to say I give the edge to the 2007 for it's overall flavors and aromas. The aromas coming from both of theses wines is quite captivating and like me you will be sad, when the last drop has disappeared from the glass. I'm a huge Pinot Noir fan, I guess it's because I like the idea of being seduced by my vino and this wine will do just that.

Kicking some Sand: Now I know, many of you Pinot-heads out there are huge fans of wineries like Sea Smoke and RRV's Kosta Browne as I have been and are on their "allocation" lists. I was as well, but with their prices going sky high. I thought hmmm, it's time to reevaluate where and how much money I'm spending on vino [I mean Pinot Noir]. In these economically challenging times this only makes sense, it's time to start cutting the fat. So that means, I will be kicking both KB and SS to the proverbial curb this year, sorry because "daddy has found a new groove". The two producers which have impressed [wowed] me enough to make this leap of faith, are Byron in SBC and Paraiso in the SLH.

So, with that in mind and having run into some seriously [to borrow a youthful word] epic PN that does not require an allocation list, nor a the need for a second mortgage on my home. I would like to suggest that this Byron SMV Pinot Noir is on-par with those other more aloof and affluent producers and makes me think of a familiar sales pitch, "you can pay more, but you won't get more". So do you really want to pay more than you have to for a premium PN? No, I didn't think so, thus I introduce to this newly discovered [for me]wonderful producer of hedonistic New World Pinot Noir, Byron. 

I can get two cases of Byron or Paraiso for the price of one case of KB or SS. I can hear some you saying already, "uh, it's not an apples/oranges comparison". C'mon really, if I blind tasted you on these wines you could not tell the difference, you would love them all, but the subtle differences would not compel you to want to pay more than twice the price [this is not say that Byron does not have PN's in the price range, they do]. Most of their Pinot Noirs are still in what I call the "reasonable" range. With Byron and the other producer I recommended above, the only limit on your purchases from Bryon are the funds in your bank account, say good-bye to allocations.

But hey, if you want to pay more feel free, I'm sure those great producers will really appreciate your continued support and besides you look really cool sporting SS or KB to all your cork-dork friends around the wine bar. As for me, I'm going with an equal but much lower bidder, a place I can get real "bang" for the buck. Because unlike our leaders in Washington, I don't have a printing press, waiting to burn off a few pages of Benjamin's to overpay for something of the same quality I can get elsewhere for a lot less.

Byron PN SMV 2007: I opened this one just the other night, paired against some seared Ahi and mushroom risotto, in a word winetastic. A huge plume of rich cherry, strawberry and plum aromas streaming from the the glass, accented by nuances of nutmeg, pepper, smoke, and a dusting of vanilla. The wine’s perfectly poised fruit to acid balance makes this wine incredibly food-friendly. My palate was struck by wave after wave of a rich cherry and raspberry pie filling, wrapped around the smokey vanilla-tinged wonderfully integrated oak, with a small dose of rich earthiness. The mouth feel is silky, the brilliant finish is long and sumptuous. This wine is drinking FAB, right now and will only get better over the next few years. A real stunner, I gave this wine 93 points and it sells for $18 most places or $26 through the tasting room. If you can still find this wine in any store, score as many as you can, a run don't walk recommendation.

Byron PN SMV 2008: I purchased a couple of these wines a few months ago, popped the cork on both and they were both outstanding. But in comparing my notes between the two, as I mentioned earlier I gave the edge to the 2007. Perhaps, it was the bottle time difference or maybe because 2007 as a vintage overall was pretty amazing. Either way, I still very much liked the 2008 and here is why; showing mineral infused cherry, sweet sandalwood, and a drop of cola flavors on the palate, impressive. It provides just enough acidity to carry the abundant fruit. In the glass it is shining brightly with a strawberry cola colored core. The nose is decadent and explodes with raspberries and cherries, and notes of baking spices. The texture of is firm and silky, the finish is long and very food friendly. I scored this wine 91 points and it sells anywhere from $18 to $25, depending on where you shop. I'm pretty sure Costco is carrying this wine on regular basis.

To make my point further has a wine sitting in their inventory right now that scored 96 points from WE and is an editors choice. What do you think the price is, $100, $65 or $50? Nope none of those, it sells for $34 in their online store. I've not tasted it myself, but if their SMV PN's are any indication of the quality of their 2008 Nielson Vineyard PN, I bet this wine is a knock-out punch of quality flavors and aromas. That is all I have for today, I hope you will give these wines a swirl and let me know what you think. Until next time, sip long and prosper, cheers!


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