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I thought I'd give Stefania a break and have a head-to-head without him. Wink Besides, he doesn't make a Pinot Noir.

I'm on a couple of Pinot Noir mailing lists too many, so I'm drinking some head-to-head to decide what to stick with.

I apologize for the brevity of my comments. Drank one glass of each Friday, then finished them off Saturday with company. These were both very good wines. On the nose, you can tell the Kosta Browne is more new worldy, with loads of fruit. The Shea Wine Cellars Wadenswil counters subtley with what seemed like darker fruit and perhaps some more earthy or spicey or leathery something I couldn't put my finger on.

In a similar fashion, in the mouth the Kosta Browne is more obvious... has great pinot fruit flavor, with some nice complexity to pull out. Nice finish. The Shea Wadenswil clone is more reserved, but the darker flavors had more complexity and seemed more interesting to not only me, but my wife and father. Really nice finish... One of the better and more interesting pinots I've had. In fact, it's the very fact that it has its own quite unique character that made me really like it. The KB was very good (and one of the better examples) but tasted like other fruit-forward pinots I've had.

KB Russian River: 90pts.
Shea Wadenswil: 92pts.

As background, I wasn't very thrilled with a Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast, as it came across as too sweet for my tastes. I prefer the Russian River Valley. Anyone know if the styles of those two bottlings are fairly consistent from vintage to vintage?

Bad news on the Shea Wadenswil is that this was the last bottling - they tore out the vines to replant. I think they are replanting with the Wadenswil clone again, so look for it in the future.

I'd like to try some Shea Vineyard bottlings from other producers.
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Ironically, I tasted the 2006 Wadenswil as well this past weekend. Actually did a taste off with the 2006 Kutch RRV and a 2005 Potel Burgundy. I also tasted the KB RRV the weekend before I think I can basically 2nd your analysis. I thought it beat out the Kutch RRV as well for similar reasons. The darker, more complex fruit and spice flavors just won out for me vs. the noticeably riper fruit.

I also am bummed the Wadenswil section was replanted. If you can find it, I understand the Auteur Shea bottling also comes from the Wadenswil block and only other winery that received grapes from that block (but I could be wrong).
I think I definitely discern a lot more when I compare wines directly like this.

I'm thinking of continuing the pinot vs pinot action...

I'll make it an NCAA tourney-style Pinot Noir competition.

Round 1
'06 Shea Wadenswil [WINNER 92-90]
'06 Kosta Browne RRV

'06 Sea Smoke Southing
'06 Windy Oaks Diane's Block

'05 Kistler Vineyard
'05 Beaux Freres Vineyard

'06 Le Cadeau Diversite
'06 Le Cadeau Equinoxe
Good idea with the burg, Chile. I don't have any older than 2004, other than a '99 Jadot grand cru. Maybe the champ should take on the Jadot.

I did end up pulling the Sea Smoke and Windy Oaks tonight, but just poured a glass of each to get them primed for tomorrow night. First glasses indicate a fist-fight, though... Like an anti-smoking nazi vs an inconsiderate smoker. Wink
Originally posted by Chilepepper:
Originally posted by winetarelli:
Based upon Pinot Days, I'm not surprised that a top notch Oregon '06 bested a top notch CA '06.

And probably even more so if it had been 05's

Actually, so far I'm more impressed with '05 for CA than '06. I don't drink enough OR Pinot to have formulated an opinion of the two vintages relative to one another there.
Originally posted by Lentini:

I did end up pulling the Sea Smoke and Windy Oaks tonight, but just poured a glass of each to get them primed for tomorrow night. First glasses indicate a fist-fight, though... Like an anti-smoking nazi vs an inconsiderate smoker. Wink

Talk about stylistic differences. I'm looking forward to your notes.
Eyes wide open, w&a... I like the Sea Smoke label... very classy looking. That would have swayed me early, but my wife's name is Diane, so the Diane's Block had me leaning that way.

They both really started to open up as I slowly finished the glasses last night. Weak points filled in... strengths developed. I'm excited about getting back to them tonight... so far I'm undecided about which was better, so the match is definitely still up for grabs.
Drinking lots of Oregon Pinot Noir's lately. My personal opinion is today the 06's are drinking much better than the 05's. I am leaving all my 05's in the cellar for now and working on the 06's. This may change of course with more cellar time, maybe the 05's will catchup and go in front.

Fun watching the race!!! Great Olympic Trials here this week in Eugene. I wish California would keep their forest fire smoke down there, Eugene has been smoked in for last 3-4 days.
Okay, these are my notes compiled over two days. Some wine is left... If anything strikes me tomorrow with the remainders, I'll update. This was a beautiful competition...

Windy Oaks - Very lightly colored... Like a Beaj Nouveau. Like the first Windy Oaks I tried... How do they pack so much flavor in with such a light color?!?!
Sea Smoke - Medium colored

Windy Oaks - Creamy spicy pinot fruit, a touch of medicine.
Sea Smoke - Candied red fruits, some spice, too.

Windy Oaks - Spices, cola, slightly tart freshness, I thought not as rich as I'd like the first night, but "rich" is the first thing I thought on day two. Long tasty dark fruit finish evolves, but some of the mid palate fruit flavors disappear quickly until the wine warms. Better balance I think, making it more approachable. Holy crap, tasty tasty when it hits room temperature. A little mushroom on the finish.

Sea Smoke - Red sweet fresh fruits, tannins and complexity in mid-palate, fruits turn to not quite ripe strawberry, finish starts tasty but thin - improving significantly as it warms like the Windy Oaks. Day two is has almost Syrah like body. Complements the quiche crust flavor I'm eating. Almost balanced (14.7% alc) heat. Becomes more velvety and 'smoky', in fact, with air. More fruit and heat than the Windy Oaks. Plumper. Finish shows real polish in the winemaking. American Traditional style (New World). Bigger flavors I think, making a hard-to-ignore good impression. This, too, starts to rock at room as it closes on room temperature.

Both these wines over the last day moved from 90 to 91 to 92 and I'm settling on 93 point wines. Wow. Both outstanding. A pleasurable challenge trying to pick a winner.

So the verdict, you ask? I'm going Windy Oaks because I'm not on the Sea Smoke mailing list yet, so it's easier for me to go with WO. But I think I'm gonna sign up. Sea Smoke is clearly popping the talent. Windy Oaks is just crazy - their wines are so lightly colored... but they're so BIG and un-subtle. But also well-crafted. Both wines are winners and highly recommended. Score 93-93 in regulation... Windy Oaks wins in overtime.

I'm revisiting them as I write this and they're still improving. Holy cow. I don't know... Sea Smoke is riled up and trying to hit 94 pts to best Windy Oaks. Kill me softly.
As I finish off the night, I'm gonna go with 92 pts for the Windy Oaks and 93 pts for the Sea Smoke. Damn good wines. I don't have another Sea Smoke Southing, so it'll be a Sea Smoke Ten vs a Shea Wadenswil in Round 2.

Next up in Round 1, I'm gonna stick to 2006 and do a Kistler Sonoma Coast vs a 2006 Beaux Freres. Game on baby; the first two matches were tough contests... lots of great pinot action. I think to myself: Am I wasting these nice pinots drinking them all in short order??? but then I realize I'm appreciating them more head to head and also figuring out which mailing lists to stick with.
Great play-by-play. I'm convinced the 11th hour choice of the Sea Smoke was so you wouldn't have to open any more of the beloved Windy Oaks. I'm drinking an 05 Reserve as I type this and heartily agree it's some great juice and completely different than most Cali Cabs. I really enjoy everything I've tasted coming out of the SCM.
I opened a 2006 Kistler Sonoma Coast and a 2006 Beaux Freres Beaux Freres Vineyard next. Here are my notes...

Day 1 first glass to give the bottles a chance to open up...

Beaux Freres BF Vineyard: Lighter than the Kistler, medium color.
Kistler Sonoma Coast: Quite dark for pinot.

On the nose:
Beaux Freres smelled of new worldy fruit but on the light side.
Kistler: TCA?

In the mouth:
BF comes in bigger than the nose suggests, mixing spice and fruit well with a licorice on the interesting long finish.
Kistler seems to have a bit of TCA taint, but dark fruit comes through. Definitely drinkable, but I don't think it a fair contest. Should I pull the 2005 Kistler Vineyard as a stand-in? I'm gonna finish the BF before coming back to the Kistler in order to keep my mouth "clean".

I was paying attention to the corks before drinking... The Beaux Freres won "longest cork" award amongst all these pinots. The Kistler cork was the dirtiest looking of the pinots I've opened, which is ironic considering it's the tainted bottle.

Day Two:

I won't touch the Kistler. The nose got better, but the TCA in the mouth got much worse last night. Definitely corked.

BF showing some light cotton candy and grape candy sweetness on the finish. Or maybe more like sweet fresh cherries with a little alcohol heat that seems almost minty. Great balance. I'm not a huge fan of the nose, but only because it shows pretty typical pinot aromatics. Underadvertises what's to come. Delicious mouthfuls of pinot goodness. Best when I was eating pork chops in a Boddington's (beer) reduction. Nice match, if a bit unorthodox. Finish becomes killer at room temperature.

Not overtly impressive, but extremely enjoyable. I was gonna hold to 92+, but I'll say 93 pts, which is I think what Wine Spectator gave it, so I'm left ashamed that I can't differentiate my opinion from theirs.

All of these 2006's are better the 2nd day with air and warmed close to room temperature. I'd say 2-3 years would benefit them highly, but with the right approach (so to speak), they're certainly delicious now.

Next is a Le Cadeau shoot-out with the new cuvee Equinoxe facing the Diversite cuvee.
Okay, so Round 1 of the 2006 Pinot Wars finished up with the 2006 Le Cadeau Diversite and Equinoxe.

The Diversite had a little more color. Nice pinot nose. And then it shocked me. It was my favorite bottling the first year Le Cadeau split to three bottlings. But this 2006 is hard to read. In a way it has everything... Color, nose, mid-palate flavors, finish. But at the same time, everything is... what's the word... Not "muted"... but everything is subtle... I wouldn't say "graceful".

The Diversite had great subtle complexity... great subtle everything, but the subtlety is too dominant. It was overpowered by the Equinoxe in a big way. You had to accept the Diversite as more subtle, then evaluate it as an easy drinking, think about it before you realize it has good qualities, kind of wine. It really was a fine wine. But just too light in everything but color. It was darker than the Equinoxe. It even had soft, subtle tannins. A very unusual pinot. Almost like a GREAT pinot for someone who is in a weakened state and you don't want anything to shock them.

The Equinoxe is overt... obviously a very good pinot right from the nose to the mouth. Much more of a crowd pleaser. The Equinoxe is like the funny guy who the whole party thinks is funny and cool. The Diversite only makes a good impression on the people who talked to him for a bit. Takes a little more investigation. The Equinoxe was a 91-92 pt wine in my book. Very nice first Equinoxe.

The Diversite was so easy to drink, I find it hard to knock the subtlety. I'd say 87-88pts because what it showed was all good stuff... nothing bad or flawed... but it didn't show off anything. Very good though if you're looking for easy drinking.

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