Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 90+ points. Purchased/Consumed at Casanova in Carmel. Le Pianiste was recommended by Tablas Creek winemaker Neil Collins and seemed like a natural choice given that the Madeleine winemaker Damien Georis is also the winemaker for the restaurant owner's label.
From the nose and palate you can tell that this wine was stylistically intended to be approachable fairly early. Aromatically the wine was expressive right away. Off the nose there are notes of red berries, earth and pepper spice. On the palate ripe red currants laid a seamless foundation for the wine to build notes of wild sage, white pepper and wood spice. There's a damp earth characteristic as well which helps keep the midpalate notes more cohesive and a menthol edge that adds some interest.
The wine remained pretty consistent over time but gained some depth with aeration. The red currant fruit in particular gained a "crushed" quality that gave it more character and more longevity into the midpalate. The tannins seem completely hidden and even though there's no real weight on the finish it seems to fade gracefully into spice notes.
Overall, a very solid wine that contains herbaceous and spice notes that are enough to hold one's interest. There's enough textural density to hold the wine together but not enough to express anything profoundly. The acid is dialed in and although the alcohol pokes through at times, it's not at all a distraction. I couldn't say with much confidence that it's suitable to age for long but then again, it probably wasn't intended to. Retails for $22 and is a rock-solid QPR. Definitely worth another shot and I'd like to have it in a more conducive tasting environment at home.