A Mountain of Fruit

Any lover of Napa Valley cabernet can tell you: mountain-grown fruit is a very good thing. With its rich tannin and black currant concentration, cabernet sauvignon from the slopes of Diamond, Howell or Spring Mountains is indeed pretty special. Be it the better drainage and poor, thin soils, or the longer growing season provided by these cooler elevations, mountain-grown fruit can yield intense satisfaction, satisfaction that comes, oftentimes, at equally intense prices. It’s this sort of density and concentration that many pinot growers and winemakers now desire and why, increasingly, pinot noir is being planted in the more marginal climes found in the Santa Rita Hills, Edna Valley and the “true” Sonoma Coast. You see, pinot noir is fast moving to the hills and frequently with stunning results.

Turjanis Steiner Vineyard Pinot Noir was a deep and nearly opaque plum-red color in the glass. Brimming with black cherry, plum, currant and blackberry, this Sonoma Mountain pinot noir was densely stuffed with flavors of dark fruits. Thankfully, this rich fruit avoided being overripe in quality. It was spicy with black pepper, graphite and leather, and finished with slate-like minerality. The bold oak here used left an indelible impression on the senses, but contributed its signature vanilla and cedar-box scent to good effect. While I found its texture sappy and rich in fruit tannin, it lacked the acidity I think required to balance such a full frame. Turjanis Pinot Noir was a mouthful of wine!

While Steiner Vineyard was extraordinary in many respects, it wasn’t subtle pinot noir and not of the style I reach for on a regular basis (especially given its substantial price). Although I found its massive weight and alcohol to be fatiguing during dinner, I did enjoy it all the same, and just like those rich cabernets from misty Napa hillsides, I think it will benefit dramatically from additional bottle age. If you pick up a bottle or two and have the patience, waiting five to seven years just might do the trick. Sonoma Mountain has been the source of other richly flavored pinots I’ve enjoyed in the past and this bottle of Turjanis proved no exception. It’s crafted like a Jackson Pollock canvas: broad and heavy with oil, boldly painted by a commanding stroke. Recommended.

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