Luciana's In Dana Point (South OC)
Tasted Saturday, March 15, 2014 by Frank Murray III with 185 views
Was thrilled to finally arrange a dinner with Jamie, a winemaker who I had been unsuccessful visiting in the past due to schedules that would not jive. However, this time with some ahead planning, we were able to get Jamie down from the Bay Area, then put a handful of Berserkers and their wives around the table and taste Jamie's wines.
Jamie and I had talked about how to structure the dinner, the best way to showcase the wines in accomplishing some insightful 'compare and contrast'. To do that, Jamie elected to flight the wines blind, first with 2013 composite barrel samples, then arrayed by vintage using 2010, 2011 and 2012 to match the food. Within the first several flights, we simply compared and contrasted the McDougall Ranch and Falstaff sites, which are the two current vintage designated pinots that he is making. After those flights, we ended with a larger flight of Sonoma Coast, again 2010-2013. This was the largest flight, the ending flight, and so it was a way to see the assembled, non-designated plots in action (which I believe are Campbell Ranch and Sonoma Stage vineyards).
Where I land on these wines and on Jamie's style is a clear link to my own palate and preferences. Specifically the use of whole cluster and the spicy, complex notes these add. Then, the acidity and red fruit components of pinot noir, both aspects of what I find in all of Jamie's wines, some more/some less, based on which bottling is in focus. Oak? Low oak and as Jamie is starting to experiment, quite low on oak. And finally, low alcohols, which is a bit of a lightning rod of discussion in some circles. I'm 48 now, my body is more sensitive to alcohol and more broadly, I don't enjoy the wines of higher glycerine and dark fruit as I did several years ago. In my view, Jamie has figured out a way through his pick decision and winemaking style to put all of these core elements into the bottle, which squarely aligns with the wines I now buy and enjoy.
My notes below will attest to this alignment and once again, I have latched onto a new Kutch wine, the 2012 Falstaff, akin to the 2010 McDougall from last year. Both of these wines are of high caliber and class, what for me represents the best of what CA pinot noir can and is doing. I'm listing the 2012 Falstaff on my WOTY list now, for me it's that good.
As to the food, you'll find the basics below. We did the dinner in the wine room at Luciana's in Dana Point, our first dinner here so far and they did a terrific job. The service was focused and attentive, the food was well-flighted and timed. If anything, the portions were too large so we'll ask them next time to pull back on these so I don't have to be rolled out on a dolly to the car!
To all who joined us last night, I hope you'll add some notes below. To Jamie, thanks for coming down and sharing your craft, really enjoyed the wines and validating how these fit into my profile of pinot noir.