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Byron Nielson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
  • WE96
  • RP90
  • W&S90
0% ABV
  • WW93
  • RP92
  • WE92
  • WE94
  • RP92
  • WE93
  • RP90
  • WS88
  • WE94
  • WE93
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Winemaker Notes

The fruit for this Pinot Noir came from selected high-density blocks planted to Dijon clones. After harvest, the clusters were hand-sorted and cold-soaked for three to five days to intensify fruit character, color and body. Some lots were fermented with native yeasts to enhance vineyard expression. The wine was cellared for 14 months in our temperature and humidity controlled barrel rooms.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 96
Wine Enthusiast
Silky and velvety soft in the mouth, coating the palate with extradordinary raspberry and cherry flavors, enriched with sweet oak, and spiced with cloves, cinnamon and white pepper. There are even notes of cocoa and orange zest. Yet brisk acidity makes it all clean and vibrant. It's hard to imagine a California Pinot Noir tasting better than this-and what a fantastic bargain. Drink now-2014.
RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2008 Pinot Noir Nielson Vineyard, which is produced from Burgundian Dijon clones as well as the old Joseph Swan clone, exhibits plenty of raspberries, black cherries, cola, and roasted herbs in a full-bodied, round, generously endowed style. This is an impressive Pinot Noir to drink now and over the next 3-5 years.
W&S 90
Wine & Spirits
Big and brash up front, this pinot noir has some jazz in its acidity, a firm, lively finish that breathes with black cherry and smoke. The tannins are fine, holding the warmth of the wine in check. Ready to serve with Peking duck.
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Byron
Byron, Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
2008 Nielson Vineyard Pinot Noir
Byron was founded in 1984 by winemaker Ken Brown. With years of experience as a winemaker in Santa Barbara County, Ken recognized the Santa Maria Valley's potential for great wines in the Burgundian style, and was the first winemaker to introduce Rhone-style grape varieties to the area. The first crush at Byron Vineyard & Winery produced 7,600 cases, and Byron soon gained national recognition for high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

In 1990, the Robert Mondavi family purchased Byron, and Ken Brown became Winemaker and General Manager. He and Tim Mondavi, Robert's son, set about designing the new Byron Winery as an expression of their shared belief in natural farming, experimental viticulture and gentle grape handling. They wanted to eliminate pumping, which shears grape stems, skin and seeds, allows tannins and other harsh elements into the juice and can make wine bitter.

With the aid of noted architect R. Scott Johnson, who designed the Opus One winery in Napa Valley and San Francisco's Transamerica building, Ken designed a multi-level winery that replaces pumping with gravity flow, resulting in more complex, dynamic wines. Byron's vineyards were also expanded and replanted as Ken Brown experimented with trellising systems, new rootstocks and clones, row orientation, and planting density in his quest for the perfect grape.

Santa Maria Valley

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A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely east to west starting near the coast, allowing Pacific Ocean air to funnel through and cool the vineyards. This allows grapes to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, this creates an ideal environment for grape growing.

Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has proven quite successful in the region as well. Many vineyards here are owned by growers who sell their grapes to wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottle from different wineries. Bien Nacido is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

EMP77595_2008 Item# 105040

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