This is Part 2. Part 1 is here. But to review briefly, the Lab compared two wines from the same vintage and the same vineyard to see if we might discover something about their shared terroir.
But what we discovered is this: If you want to compare oranges to oranges, you need a point of reference. You need a tangerine.
We also, perhaps a little hastily, dismissed an employee. An employee who left the Lab with our tangerine in his bag. Today, he's back at work, and we're tasting the tangerine. But it's not really a tangerine (that's just a metaphor). It's a bottle of 2005 Stephen Ross Edna Valley Pinot Noir. The Stone Corral Vineyard that produced the two wines we tasted in Part 1 is also in the Edna Valley. And Steve Dooley, the winemaker of Stephen Ross, is the third participant in the Stone Corral vineyard. So the grapes that went into this wine (the tangerine) are certainly close cousins (of our oranges).
The Stephen Ross has a straightforward cherry fruit nose with some talc and hints of cedar. Very fruit-forward, mostly cherry with some jammy plum. Ripe, but not overly so. Dry tannins. Pencil lead on the finish.
This is ready to drink. It's very good, though not likely to get much better with age. It has some distinct elements, but isn't particularly distinctive.
But where it really succeeds is as a tangerine.
With this frame of reference, all of a sudden the Stone Corral terroir becomes obvious. What connects the Talley and Kynsi Pinots to that single Central Coast vineyard is palpable against the more generic fruit of the Stephen Ross wine.
I really wish that kid had found the Stephen Ross Stone Corral Pinot. Would have made for a more complete experiment. Something to look forward to with the 2006 vintage, I guess.
And I'd consider doing this one at home with the '06s. It's highly instructive.
(tangerine: © Milosluz | Dreamstime.com)