Oh When the Saints(bury) Go Marching In...My Mouth
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
A Pinot House that knows what's up...
Have you ever had an amazing day wine tasting with friends and thought the wine club membership sounded like a great idea? They all sound like a good idea when you are overlooking idyllic vineyard terrain, nibbling on charcuterie and laughing at your slightly inebriated friend's jokes. Then you get home and a month or two later get a shipment with a heftier price tag than you recall, but excitedly open a bottle expecting to relive that magical weekend and alas... not the same. Well, that did NOT happen to us with #Saintsbury. Ok, the first part of the story did, but, we have been so happy with each wine ever since. No really, we like it so much we included it in our family Christmas card for 2018 favorites... along with our children.
What I LIKE about Saintsbury:
The tasting experience at the winery. It's a super chill environment if you get a chance to taste there in person next time you're in Napa Valley¹ . We sat outside in the quaint garden area. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and took the tasting at our pace. We had tons of questions, and the young woman² pouring for us sat down at our table and spent meaningful time chatting with us. We talked about the wine, the history there, we talked about life. I learned about Waldorf education and that she was a twin. It was great. We also got lucky because earlier that morning, they had a member VIP group tasting cancel, but had already opened their library wines to breathe. Guess who got to sample that magnum of 2002 Brown Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir pictured above? Yes, yours truly. Which brings me to my next point...
That 2002 held up shockingly well for a 16 year old new world Pinot Noir. It had structure, and a nice depth of flavors from ripe primary fruit to tertiary development. Saintsbury wines have good ageability. You can enjoy them today or cellar them and let those puppies develop. We don't currently have a temperature controlled cellar, or the willpower, to store and age wines, but one day, I'm planning on having both.
They pair well with a variety of food. We've tried their various Pinot Noirs with everything from chicken marsala and pan-seared steelhead trout to a fig/sausage/olive board, and keep coming to the conclusion that they are versatile. Also very enjoyable solo, which is a necessity in American culture.
Saintsbury offers extensive information about each wine, so you know exactly what you're getting and can learn more about what's behind the bottle. A combination of transparency and education that oenophiles will truly appreciate. In addition to varietal, appellation and vintage, they include the vineyard and clone on the label. You can go on their website and explore further, with details about the vineyard, the terroir and winemaking available for each bottle. If you like a wine, learn more about it... you might know a varietal you enjoy but maybe discover a particular clone that stands out, or maybe it's the appellation as well that suites your palate. Then you can start experimenting - get 2 different wines, same varietal from the same appellation. What's similar? What's different? Which shows more terroir? Make it fun!
What I do NOT LIKE about Saintsbury:
They are a bit pricey, which makes them seem more like special occasion wines. Needless to say, we justify a lot of special occasions at our house. Kids slept through the night. That's celebratory, right? It's only Tuesday... well, yolo!
I always wish there was more in the bottle.
Thanks to the 2004 movie #Sideways starring #PaulGiamatti, and an evolving consumer palate increasing demand, there are a ton of basic Pinot Noirs out there³. Pinot Noir is one of the most finicky varietals, and needs a lot of TLC. Saintsbury is doing a great job and putting out outstanding Pinot Noirs.
Keep it up!
P.S. If you didn't get the title (Oh When the Saints(bury) Go Marching In...My Mouth) , check out this Louis Armstrong song. Fast forward to about 1 minute in for the singing to start. Just try to sing the title now without laughing, I dare you!
~ If you want to learn more about Pinot Noir, check back soon or subscribe to blondetasting.com... we'll take a closer look at the Pinot Noir varietal next! ~
² "young woman"... if you read this and would like me to include your name, please hit me up! I would be more than happy to as a thank you for a wonderful tasting.
³ If you haven't seen the movie, it really makes Merlot look bad and Pinot Noir look good. This caused a paradigm shift in the wine industry, particularly in California and the US in general. Demand for Pinot Noir jumped while demand for Merlot slumped. "When the hit movie "Sideways" was released on October 22, 2004, with the central character Miles extolling the virtues of Pinot Noir, U.S. supermarket sales of the variety jumped 18 percent between October 24, 2004 and July 2, 2005, compared to the same period a year earlier." (https://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/winefactsheets/article95). Merlot vineyards got ripped up and producers started planting Pinot Noir everywhere, even in places where Pinot Noir has no business being (remember above about our picky Pinot grape). What comes next? Lots of low quality, low cost Pinot Noirs flooding retail to meet demand.