2005 Hayman & Hill Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Selection No. 41 Pinot Noir

Price: $9.99 @ The Wine Club

What They Said:

Per the winery “Lifted strawberry and sweet ripe raspberry characters attack you on the nose and palate. Subtle dusty overtones with a sweet smokiness help to make this a powerful yet elegant Pinot with plenty of class.”

It was also selected as one of the top 100 wines by the San Francisco Chronicle who had this to say; ‘THREE STARS 2005 Hayman & Hill Reserve Selection No. 41 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($14) One of only two three-star wines in this group, this is also the least expensive. Run, don’t walk, to buy this pretty, balanced Pinot, with vivid raspberry, cherry and cranberry fruit, juicy acidity and a soft, supple mouthfeel. Subtle notes of black pepper and black olive add complexity.

What I Think:

This wine was part of a half dozen I picked up while shopping for the Ridge a while back at The Wine Club. What initially attracted me to this bottle was the opportunity to by a Santa Lucia Highlands designated Pinot for $10. It seemed unbelievable as you usually have a hard time getting yourself a bottled classified as California at this price point. Once I got home and did some initial research it seemed that I may have stumbled on to something as this had been selected to the top 100 wines of 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle (see above). Given all of this excitement it is somewhat amazing that it took me this long to open it but with steak (which more aptly turned out to be beef roast) planned for dinner I decided to pop the top on this. It would square off against the 2000 Bordeaux I had opened the previous evening in anticipation of this meal.

On first impression it had a nose that didn’t stop. It was like walking into a strawberry patch. The light fruit was followed by leafy aromas with a dusty, earthy backbone tying it all together. On the palate I thought I initially had sensed some cherries but if I did they quickly gave way to the strawberries. Either way the fruit was red and ripe, perhaps overripe as it seems hot throughout (my wife called it spicy). The wine had nice structure but wasn’t overly complex as it has same flavor profile throughout. As I put the cork back in that first night I thought this is a nice, light easy drinking wine. The second day it seemed much better integrated adding a new dimension to the wine, it was still strawberries from beginning to end but they seemed to be balanced throughout by the ever so mild peppery notes that came on in the finish. By day three there was a little less on the nose and mid-palate seemed to be shrinking though the start and finish were in fine form. It was also starting to get slightly sour with hints of cranberry making an appearance. Sadly there are no notes from day four as I finished the previous evening.

As I placed the empty bottle with the recyclables I thought to myself that was a very pleasant wine. Nothing strong or overpowering about it but very enjoyable. This would be a great first red for those of you that prefer whites. I may get another bottle, but I am not running, and if I do you can be sure I will pair it with lighter fare, perhaps salmon or roast chicken. Given that most of the Pinot’s out there today are much bigger, bolder (hence my thoughts of pairing with beef) efforts this was a pleasant break and a reminder of how delicate Pinot can be. If you like to see both sides of the coin grab yourself a bottle of this and ponder the differences.

Rating: Buy It