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Notes from a tasting of five 2002 Loring Pinot Noirs, Tuesday, October 7, 2003. The wines were all tasted in a single non-blind flight over a period of four hours.

Although I was certainly delighted when Brian Loring asked if I'd like to write some reviews of his 2002 Pinot Noir lineup, I have to admit, I was also a little surprised. Afterall, since his last few releases, Loring Pinot Noirs have practically sold themselves - thanks to Brian's unflagging efforts and winemaking skill. But, I was especially pleased that Brian asked, since he could easily have had his choice of several people or publications to write the tasting notes to be included in his upcoming mailer. I had tasted each of the 5 wines as barrel samples several times before (as recently as June), but I was looking forward to trying them since bottling.

This is the fourth release of Loring Pinots, and is arguably the best. If you get the mailer, this will be familiar. If you don't get the mailer, here's what you missed.

Overall impressions: all of these wines were excellent. Fruit sources in this release spanned the entire Central Coast, from Garys' Vineyard in the north to the Santa Rita Hills in the south. The wines were finished differently this time out as well. Brian used a black synthetic closure and a slimmer bottle shape. Brian says this is an effort to eliminate corked wines, as well as a response to the "demand" for narrower bottles to fit regular cellar racking.

For 2002, the Clos Pepe was my favorite - not for its subtlety - but more for its lack of subtlety. This was made from an incredibly minute yield of less than 1 ton/acre. Both Santa Lucia Highlands Pinots were excellent, with the Brosseau from the Chalone AVA right on their heels. The Rancho Ontiveros was almost more Russian River-like in its bright cherry fruit. Whichever you choose, you won't be disappointed.

Tasting Notes

2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Clos Pepe Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills.
Very dark purple ruby in color - obviously quite extracted. Huge nose that seems almost over-filled with aromas of black cherry, strawberry compote, grilled bread, lots of espresso, plus some flint and mineral notes. Thick and chewy in mouthfeel, with loads of black cherry and strawberry fruit, accented by flavors of stem, rhubarb, and grilled toast. Excellent balance, and very smooth on the palate, yet there's no mistaking the backbone on this wine. Packed to the rafters with fruit, this beauty is approachable on release, but will further reward patience and cellar time.

2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Medium ruby-violet in color. Fascinating, lightly stemmy nose, with a complex melange of bing cherry, strawberry, perfume, toasted anise and rosemary, and roasted coffee. There's also an interesting background note of lime zest, along with a touch of wet forest. Very rich and juicy in mouthfeel, the sweet-sour strawberry-cherry fruit has just a hint of chocolate edge to it, along with excellent balance, and a slight grip to the very long finish.

2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Garys' Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Medium ruby-garnet in color. Lightly perfumed nose of black cherry, flint, herbs, and roasted coffee. Full chewy mouthfeel, with slightly sweet and fleshy black cherry and strawberry fruit, hints of stem and herb, and an interesting light chocolate-mocha aftertaste. Excellent balance, with a nice bite to the long finish. Rich and tasty from beginning to end, this one will be hard to keep your hands off.

Favorites - In Order of Preference
2002 Loring Pinot Noir -
Clos Pepe Vineyard,
Santa Rita Hills.
2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Rosella's Vineyard,
Santa Lucia Highlands.
2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Garys' Vineyard,
Santa Lucia Highlands.
2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Brosseau Vineyard,
2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard,
Santa Maria Valley.

2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone.
Medium ruby-garnet in color. Loads of strawberry, herbs, stem and leaf in the nose, along with an intriguing orange blossom note. Succulent and tasty in mouthfeel, with lots of wild strawberry and earthy flavors. Nice and smooth on the palate, with excellent balance, and very long finish. This wine is sleek and racy, and probably the most "Old World" in profile.

2002 Loring Pinot Noir - Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley.
Dark ruby in color. Beautiful nose of ripe and burnished strawberry, cherry, rose petal, and a touch of stem, along with background notes of clay and loam that accent the burnished fruit very nicely. Sweet, ripe and almost silky on the palate, the lightly spiced flavors are very integrated. Excellent balance throughout, with a nice touch of citrus and bite of oak noted in the long finish.

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Last Update 11.17.03