In November, 2007, one month after the California harvest ended, I wrote in my vintage diary: Everyone agrees 2007 is the Pinot Noir vintage of the century. Granted, it was seven years into the century and there was nothing in bottle, but when it comes to Pinot Noir, people tend to get excited.
Every Pinot Noir winemaker I talked to that November was glowing. “It’s hard to contain myself. It’s shaping up to be a really exciting vintage in Pinot Noir,” said Jason Drew of Drew Family Cellars. Michael Terrien, then at Hanzell, said, “The fruit was simply gorgeous. More winemakers will make good and great Pinot Noir in 2007 than in 2005.”
I have previously written that 2005 was the greatest California Pinot vintage, and now I stand firm on 2007 (in a sort of Bordeauxesque 1959 vis-a-vis 1961 juxtaposition). Vintage 2008 was of lesser quality, although there’s lots of buzz around the 2009s, which prompted one winemaker to quip, “In the future, I’m only going to make Pinot Noir in odd-numbered years.”
In his Williams Selyem newsletter, winemaker Bob Cabral (whose 2007 Litton Estate Pinot Noir scored 100 points), credited 2007’s quality to the “near-perfect weather…near perfect sunshine [and] even paced harvest.” And it’s true; the weather for Pinot in 2007 was near perfect. After a dry winter, spring was cool. The first heat didn’t come until mid-June, but quickly went away, and the remainder of the summer was mild. The crucial Labor Day period, which almost always sees brutal heat waves, was remarkably well-behaved. There was some rain from the North Coast through the Central Coast in September. But, observes, Randy Ullom, Kendall-Jackson’s winemaster: “Following the brief, wet weather, we were back picking grapes in mid-80 temperatures.” Heavy rains struck in mid October, but by then the Pinot had been picked.
Now, more than two years later, it’s clear the excitement was justified. I’ve reviewed more than 600 ’07 Pinot Noirs (they’re still coming in) and, looking at my numbers accumulated over time, I’ve found that about 300, or half, of the wines scored 90 points or above. Twenty percent scored 93 points or above. The Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast, taken as a whole, outpaced the other appellations, partly because that big region contains so many wineries, partly because weather was uniformly fine.
Listed below are the top scoring Pinot Noirs from 2007. The full feature on this vintage is available in our march 2010 issue.
100 Williams Selyem 2007 Litton Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $100.
98 Evening Land 2007 Occidental Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast ); $150.
97 Lynmar 2007 Hawk Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $70.
97 Semper 2007 Gold Ridge Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley); $85.
97 Sequana 2007 Sundawg Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Green Valley); $50.
97 Melville 2007 Carrie’s Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills); $52.
97 Sea Smoke 2007 Ten Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills); $80.
96 Siduri 2007 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $50.
96 Chronicle 2007 Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley); $48.
96 Bjornstad 2007 Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $40.
96 Evening Land 2007 Occidental Coast Two Daughters Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $65.
96 Longoria 2007 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley); $45.