Pinot of the Month: Stephen Ross Chorro Creek Pinot Noir 2008

Stephen Ross PinotMost of our tasting panel here at Wine Factor are very familiar with Stephen Ross Pinots. When our friends arrive for a special occasion clutching a Stephen Ross Pinot, we smile at each other and know that it’s going to be a very good evening! Wine maker Stephen Ross Dooley and his lovely and gracious wife Paula create some of the most consistently fine Pinots that we know of.

Personally, I have never had one of their Pinots that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This, the Chorro Creek Vineyard, is a small production Pinot that has a splendid nose, texture and balance that transcends into a lovely finish that really pleases! Beautifully rich and deep in color, with subtle aromas of sandalwood, spice and lush berries, which then traverses into wild blackberry, rhubarb, spicy white pepper, candied cherry, with hints of forest floor. This wine is delicate and powerful at the same time. The textures are soft and voluptuous with mild acidity and lingering fine tannins. This opulent wine has a beautiful full mouth finish that screams to be decanted or left a little while in a large open glass.

The Chorro Creek Vineyard lies at the mouth of the Edna Valley as it opens to the Pacific Ocean near the town of Morro Bay. It is about three miles West of San Luis Obispo, which puts it out of the Edna Valley AVA, into an area with more influence from the Pacific Ocean. This is the coolest vineyard in the Stephen Ross lineup of Pinot Noirs, located just 3 miles from the ocean. 2008 was indeed a year of extremes in the Central Coast; there was spring frost, there was a short period in June when temperatures peaked above 100 degrees F, while a series of October freezes resulted in all-time lows in San Luis Obispo. Benefiting from the moderating effects of the Pacific Ocean, Chorro Creek was protected from much of that, and enjoyed a long, cool growing season, which is exactly what Pinot Noir flourishes in. Crop yields were slightly below average, around 2 tons per acre. This is a late ripening vineyard resulting in wines with mature tannins and pronounced varietal flavors. Only 202 cases produced. 92 pt.WE

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