I’m picky about my Pinot Noir and folks who know me, know that I gravitate towards red Burgundy… That said, I do have a soft spot for Pinot Noir coming out of the Central Coast of California, especially those that strike a balance between the effusive fruitiness of West Coast Pinot Noir and the earthy, elegance of the Cote d’Or.

Talbott is one such producer. Started in 1982 by Robb Talbott, with a singular vision that, as stated on his web site… “It all began with my first taste of a great Burgundy. That experience profoundly shaped my palate, and as I grew older I knew that I wanted to create unique and exceptional Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Wines that took their inspiration from the traditions of Burgundy, but had their roots in California’s soils.”

Talbott established two important vineyards in Monterrey County: Diamond T Estate and Sleepy Hollow Vineyard. According to the web site, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard is “located in the stunning Santa Lucia Highlands, 13 miles south of Monterey Bay, this 565-acre hillside vineyard is divided into three separate vineyard parcels, Sleepy Hollow West, Sleepy Hollow South and Sleepy Hollow North. Both the West and South parcels are planted on Arroyo Seco gravelly loam soil, which allows excellent root penetration, enabling the vines to pick up subsoil minerals that increase flavor complexity. These sparse, well-drained soils also reduce yields, creating rich, concentrated flavors in the grapes. The vineyard’s predominately east-northeast exposure, combined with its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, contributes to a cool growing site with moderate vineyard temperatures. This results in a long growing season, giving the grapes the luxury of more hangtime to develop greater varietal character. Grapes from Sleepy Hollow West and South predominantly contribute to the Talbott Sleepy Hollow, Cuvée Carlotta and Logan Chardonnays, and the Talbott, Cuvée Sarah Case and Logan Pinot Noirs.”

“The Sleepy Hollow North block of Talbott’s Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands is home to the Talbott winery. This special 115-acre, contiguous vineyard block has predominantly Chualar gravelly loam soil that contains a large percentage of sand, gravel and granite-based rock. The unique composition of this well-drained soil allows for excellent root penetration. As with Sleepy Hollow Vineyard’s older blocks, growing conditions at Sleepy Hollow North result in low yields and excellent concentration of flavor components in the fruit. Relatively close proximity to the Pacific Ocean moderates temperatures, resulting in a long, mild growing season. The block’s mainly northeast exposure also contributes to cooler temperatures. Sleepy Hollow North is planted with newer clones of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1989 and 1990, new Wente clones were planted on shy-bearing rootstock. The vines are on vertical trellising and receive minimal irrigation. In recent years, several acres of Pinot Noir vines were also planted on select rootstocks to elite Pommard and Dijon clones. Like Diamond T, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard is cultivated with a focus on environmentally conscious, sustainable farming practices.”

I had the 2009 Talbott at dinner recently and was quite impressed with its character and focus. So much so, that we picked up a case at a net price of $24.00 per bottle – quite the value, in my opinion.

My tasting note:

Ripe nose with vibrant red berry aromas and pretty floral hints. Medium-to-full-bodied with moderate acidity and supple tannin – well balanced. Fruity, elegant palate. Jammy with tar and roasted game notes. Long finish – smooth with lovely resolve. Drinking well now and should hold for another 3 to 5 years. Very Nice!