Brian Loring has been making excellent Pinot Noir for the past decade from a vast range of vineyards throughout the State. I've tasted a good sampling over the years. He's been on a bit of a journey over the years. The oldest, a '99 Sharon's Vyd. I had a few years ago, was at what I would call normal ripeness. At 5 years old it was still youthful and quite enjoyable. To Brian, it wasn't good enough. He makes wine for his taste, and strives for excellence. Wines from subsequent years grew riper and fuller. Definitely more impressive to a lot of people. To me, they were the same high quality, but not necessarily any more enjoyable. With the '04 vintage he pushed things a little too far. The sample I tried did nothing for me. In '05 he overreacted, picking a little less ripe than he would like, in retrospect. I'd long been resigned to "the fact" that with his preferences being riper than mine, that I would always just enjoy his wines, but not be really WOW'd by them.
Now, with the '07s he's really nailed it! They are perfectly ripe, expressive, clean, with perfect acid and tannin structure. (Some in the past had felt a bit heavy, with maybe not quite enough acid.) Now, my only complaint is that he doesn't source any Santa Cruz Mountains fruit.
Loring '07 Pinot Noir "Aubaine" (San Luis Obispo)
Nose - bright rich rhubarb, black currant, blackberry and mandarin.
Rich, full, bright, with black currant, mandarin zest, blackberry. Just lovely. Drink now-'15. 94 pts
Loring '07 Pinot Noir "Garys' Vineyard" (Santa Lucia Highlands)
Nose - soft, flinty, full, warm, black plum, black cherry, some earth, zest and nutmeg.
Grippy, zest, pith, mushroom, tingly mouthfeel, black currant, lots of zest, tight, a bit of bitter greenness on the finish. Needs 2 years. 87+ pts
(I've never been a fan of Garys' Vyd. Pinots. Something about the expression just doesn't work for me. From a good range of producers I've never had a bad one and never been impressed by one. But I know a lot of people who are big fans of the site.)
Loring '07 Pinot Noir "Russel Family" (Paso Robles)
Nose - soft, warm purple fruit (almost Petite Verdot-like)
Dusty tannins, full, smooth boysenberry, zest, flint. Ready. 92 pts
Loring '07 Pinot Noir "Keefer Ranch" (Russian River Valley)
Nose - intense, cranberry and lavender, good minerality, rhubarb.Cranberry, blackberry, grapefruit, mushroom, flint, hint of char. Firm, good structure. Give it 2 years. 91+ pts
Loring '07 Pinot Noir "Clos Pepe" (Santa Rita Hills)
Nose - zesty, smooth, tight, warm purple fruit.
Zesty, creamy, mandarin zest, graphite, boysenberry, green tannin, char. Grippy, needs a year to smooth out. 90+ pts
Brian likes his wines on release. To my tastes most benefit from a couple years. Either way, they have the structure to age and a lot going on. This is the type of wine you enjoy as it evolves over the course of an evening.
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