- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sokol Blosser, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, 2004, $30

American pinot noir is red hot. Everyone seems to want it, and frenzied consumer demand is leading to higher prices. The problem is that many of the wines are, quite frankly, not all that good. An awful lot of them taste heavy, with candied, overripe

flavors and a sappy, sugary aftertaste. Pinot is one category in which the maxim caveat emptor surely applies.

I have been sampling current-release pinots lately, wines from the 2004 and 2005 vintages. (Seeing so many 2005s on store shelves indicates that the unprecedented popularity of this varietal has led many wineries to rush their wines to market, well before they are ready to drink.) Few have seemed to me worth their price tags. A handful, though, offer excellent quality at a fair price. Of these, Sokol Blosser’s 2004 from Oregon’s Dundee Hills leads the way.

As a grape, pinot noir is thin-skinned, so as a wine, it should be light and delicate. This one is. It impresses with finesse, not muscle, and while tasting of ripe red berry fruit, it never seems overly sweet.

Although you can feel tannins in its finish, the wine is soft and supple, so it is a pleasure to sip. Still quite young, it should age gracefully for five to 10 years more. Despite all the hype about the category, this is that still-rare American pinot noir — a wine to buy, not beware.

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