This is how I think Pinot Noir should taste.
Not everyone will agree with me, however. In fact, at the Pinot Noir Summit where I tasted this wine, it ended up not ranking in any of the top three lists, but it was my pick of the day. For those who attended the event, I believe the Exuberance’s assigned color was “Blue Green.”
On to the wine itself. “Exuberance” is Canihan Family Cellar’s prize, low-production line of wines (they also make a Syrah with this designation). The Exuberance Pinot Noir comes from an organic vineyard on the Sonoma side of Los Carneros made up entirely of French Dijon Clones 115, 667, and 777. The vineyard is certified organic and the winemaking process is biodynamic.
These are a lot of buzzwords, though. While they have real meaning, they are starting to just get said in order to be said, not because of the purposes and meanings behind them. It all boils down to what kind of wine is produced from all these buzzwords?
In the case of Canihan’s Exuberance… really freakin' good wine.
The wine is a garnet shade in the glass, fading to a kind of orangered at the edges. The nose is like fantastic raspberries on the bush–you get both the bright red fruit of the berry, and the wood, earthiness, and leafy green of the bush. This is no one-note, “it’s just pretty” Pinot. Oh it’s pretty all right, but there is some definite complexity in this flavor profile.
The wine has a lustrous full-bodied feeling in your mouth, silky smooth, and clean as a whistle, no syrupiness or thickness or over-strong sweetness. Good, subtle acid pairs nicely with some wonderfully bright cherry and strawberry notes, but everything in balance.
I was shocked—shocked—to discover that this wine clocks in at 14.2% ABV. It doesn’t show. There’s no noticeable heat on the nose, no astringency on the palate, though there is some nice sweetness, and the notable acid–everything working together.
If California winemakers really want to shove 14+ point wine down our throats (and by all indicators, it seems they do), they would do well to take a cue from Canihan on just how to do it.