by Fred McMillin
for January 20, 1998

A Prodigious Pinot

Prologue: Remarks about this Pinot Noir from my panel:

  • "Smooth, smoky, yummy"
  • "Buoyant, yum!"
  • "With age, will be out of this world."
  • "Wow. A fruit bomb!"
The Rest of the Story: There's no need to review this one. It must be from another planet. I checked back for three years and no Pinot Noir could touch this bottle. It's Dr. David Bruce's '95 Chalone Pinot.

But what is Dr. Bruce doing with grapes from the 1,800-foot vineyard far to the southeast of his Santa Cruz Mountain Estate? That's easy. Two decades ago David supplied cuttings to help the Chalone Vineyard get rolling. So this marvelous Pinot actually is made from his own grapes!

The Wine:
1995 Pinot Noir, Chalone, Monterey County
David Bruce Winery
Los Gatos, CA
Phone—(800) 397-9972

Postscript: The stratospheric rating of today's wine did not come as a shock. I counted up the Golds, Double Golds, Best of Show, etc. for a three year period and Bruce Pinots won thirty five, about a dozen every year. This Chalone won't damage that record.

PPS: Don't be embarrassed if you're not familiar with the Chalone wine district. It contains no well-known town and only one winery, the Chalone Vineyard. Located on the east side of the Salinas valley well above the fog line, only 120 of its 8,600 acres are planted with vines.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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