An evening with Brian Loring

Montana's Steak House (Hermitage, PA)
Tasted Monday, May 14, 2012 by Loren Sonkin with 209 views

Introduction

Last Saturday, I drove over to Pennsylvania where my friend Humberto had organized a dinner for Brian Loring. I hadn't seen Brian in about a decade and was looking forward to seeing him and trying his wines. Berto had organized a huge event with about 40 people in the back room. It was a lot of fun and great to meet a lot of new people. It was worth the drive (including a long detour as I went to the wrong restaurant at first 40 minutes away)

The wines were served non-blind and progressively in very small wine glasses. Luckily, there was plenty of wine to go around which made it easy to get a good impression of the wines. Brian makes no excuses for his wines. He is trying to make California Pinot Noir that is fruit filled, exuberant, fun and easy to drink. He is not trying to make a wine that needs to be laid down for a decade before it is "ready". While it seems his wines are a bit more toned down, that could be the vintage or he could just be finding his sweet spot. In any event, the wines all showed well and the crowd loved them.

Flight 1 (7 Notes)

  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Chardonnay Durell Vineyard 88 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast

    Golden in color. The nose has a Cream Soda note with lots of buttery. I was surprised that the oak was not as dominant as I was expecting. Slight lemon chiffon notes. On the palate, this is nice with some mineral notes and still lots of fruit (lemons and grapefruits). Some alcohol on the finish. This is typical but better than most California Chards. Others liked it more than I stylistically.

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  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard 90 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands

    Ruby in color with some magenta. The nose is candied raspberries. Very pleasant. The palate matched with a raspberry hard candy quality. Its easy to drink and delicious. Not much complexity but then its so young. I am not sure how the order of wines was determined but this was a fun starter.

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  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Garys' Vineyard 92 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands

    One of my two favorites of the night. It has more of a black cherry nose but still some raspberries. The palate matches. What I really liked about this is the texture. It is rich and plush without being Syrah-like or overblown. It is certainly a ripe Cal Pinot, that is to say, delicious and fruit filled, but it coats the mouth and each sip begets another one. To me, this is what Loring Pinots are at their finest. In a year or two, I think this is even better.

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  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard 91 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    This was the most earthy of the group on the nose. While it will never be confused with Burgundy, there is a warm, moist forest floor note underlying lots of cherry and black cherry fruit. The palate is more straightforward black cherry fruit although there is an interesting licorice note on the finish. A bit of heat as well but that may sort itself out with some bottle time.

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  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Aubaine Vineyard 91 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Arroyo Grande Valley

    Those around my table seemed to like this a bit more than I. The biggest difference to me was the it had this peppery quality that I associate more with Syrah than Pinot. Still plenty of cherry fruit and some candied cherries. For my tastes, this was the most up front, out there, easy to drink Pinot of the night. Its good and easy to drink.

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  • 2010 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Rancho La Vina 92 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills

    This was my co-favorite of the night and a wine I seemed to like a bit better than my table mates. Its very smooth and the fruit was the most restrained of any. Its not so much restrained and silky IMO. Again, it was the texture that differentiated that for me. Seems like some tight layering that needs a couple of years to unwind. Certainly enough fruit for waiting for it to do so. Again, a delicious wine.

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  • 2009 Loring Wine Company Divergence 90 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles

    I can see some people scoring this much higher than I. It is supposed to be Brian's version of an El Nido wine from Spain. First, it does not have the oak that the El Nido has which is a good thing IMO as those wines always seem to have too much for my tastes. Second, it was served with Ice Cream and chocolate which was not a good match IMO and made it difficult. The wine is purple/ruby in color. The nose is slightly pruney with boysenberries and raspberries. A hint of coconut as well. Its thick, pruney with raspberries (black and red) on the palate. Not hot or oaky but very ripe and slightly sweet. I am not sure if this is RS or just ripe fruit. Its a fun wine but I wouldn't want to drink a lot of it.

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Closing

I had a great time and really enjoyed the wines. At the end of the evening, there were a few more BYO bottles opened. A 98 ZH SGN was good but seemed a bit past prime to me which was surprising. A 99 Yquem was outstanding if not up to the heights of some of the great years. As I had a long drive home, I passed on the others.

Many thanks to Berto and Brian for the event.

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