I have been a fan of Siduri Pinot Noirs for years. Adam and Dianna Lee had a dream that couldn’t (and still can’t) be realized in their native Texas. They wanted to make world-class Pinot Noir. Frankly, so do I but they actually went and did it.
They established their company in 1994, sourcing grapes from some of the best Pinot Noir areas in California. Current production is between regional bottlings, for example, Santa Rita Highlands, and vineyard-specific bottlings like Pisoni Vineyard.
According to their Website: “Each barrel of Siduri Pinot Noir is vinified separately by lot, clone, yeast and cooper, blended individually by Adam and Dianna Lee and bottled unfiltered and un-fined to retain the distinct character of each vineyard site.”
The result of this effort is highly acclaimed and respected wine priced between $22-$55 per bottle. Their total production is close to 15,000 cases across at least 20 vineyards /appellations. The California appellations from which they source grapes are Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma Coast, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Lucia Highlands and Russian River Coast. The wines are available through their mailing list and at better wine stores in New York.
What many people don’t know (and I just learned a few years ago) is that Siduri also makes Pinot Noir from grapes sourced from Oregon. I recently tasted their current vintages from Willamette Valley and Chehalem Mountains, which according to Adam Lee is the coolest part of the Willamette Valley.
He goes on to say that they didn’t choose a site like Dundee Hills, which is a warmer part of the Willamette. According to Lee: “Since we already have California Pinots, we didn’t want to go to an area that makes somewhat bigger Pinots as we already have those in California.”
He finished by saying: “I guess the only thing I’d want to say is that we have been making Oregon Pinot Noir since 1995. And while it is a novelty in some way for a California winery to make Oregon Pinot, it isn’t viewed that way for us. We go up there frequently and really feel a kinship to the place.”
Here are my tasting notes for these two wines:
Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012 (blend of grapes from the Shaw and Arbre Vert vineyards; 1034 cases produced; SRP $22) - This wine offers simple aromas of bright red cherries as well as bright cherry notes on a light-bodied wine with excellent acidity and negligible tannins.
The color of this wine is more like a Burgundy, but the bright fruit is definitely new world. The wine pairs beautifully with a wide variety of foods; it is very clean and crisp with a soft palate, long length and nice finish.
This is a must-try wine for someone who likes lighter, elegant Pinots. It’s also an excellent starter red for the white wine drinker – think of incorporating cherry flavors into the description of a good, crisp unoaked white wine.
Siduri Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains 2011 (blend of grapes from Beran and Arbre Vert Vineyards; 944 cases produced; SRP $30) – The nose is round showing red and blue fruit, as well as earthy like dried fall leaves. It is definitely oak influenced, but not too much. The palate follows the nose with earthy notes as well, plus excellent acidity, slightly drying tannins and long length.
Deeper in color that the Willamette wine, it’s very true to it's Oregon roots in that it’s right between California and Burgundy in style. It’s more full bodied than many Burgundies (except maybe from the 2009 vintage) and less fruit forward than many California Pinots. The lovely earthy notes come straight from Burgundy. Elegant but with some oomph, this is lovely wine.
Please note that I have found most of Siduri’s Pinot Noirs need to breathe out of the bottle. The attack (opening notes) is very thin otherwise. The wines develop upon being open and in the glass for a few minutes.