2012AlfaroPN2012 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The other day I read a blog piece about how hard it was to find a great or good California Pinot Noir under $40, I was very unconvinced and thought it was sloppy reporting, especially as it seemed they tried about the worst selection of wine possible, that seemed to be on purpose for a bashing of the states’ Pinot, my response was to highlight at least 10 absolutely top wines that can easily be had for under $40, though I didn’t get a reply as of yet. (Still waiting Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, and to be fair she did mention that the high priced wines from California and Oregon were world class…) The wines I certainly believe are deservingly need mentioning were Samsara, Brewer-Clifton, Melville, Peay, Fort Ross, Lucia, Windy Oaks, Failla, Mansfield-Dunn, Copain, Knez and this superb wine from Richard Alfaro’s Alfaro Family Vineyards in Santa Cruz. (That was just off the top of my head, there are loads of other wonderful under $40 Pinots!) I had put this 2012 away for personal consumption, but pulled it out just to refresh my memory and it is showing fantastic, and while the 2012 might be hard to find on the shelves, don’t worry the 2013 is even better, that said the 2012 continues to impress, it has gained complexity and class in bottle with a year of short term cellaring. Alfaro’s Santa Cruz Mountains estate near Corralitos is a must visit winery close to Aptos only a few miles from Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean, the Pinot and Chardonnay offerings are some of the best values in California and his Albarino and Gruner Veltliner are must have summer whites. The very appealing estate Pinot Noir 2012 saw about 30% new French oak and comes in at a very balanced 13.8% alcohol, making for a rich and lush wine that has vitality and depth, it starts with crushed berries, cola, floral tones and toasty oak leading to a silken palate of raspberry, plum and red cherry fruits along with a touch of earth, tea, anise, saline and vanillin. This is still a young vibrant wine, lifted by underlying acidity and it should get even better with another few years in bottle, there is a fair amount of tannin, but it plays well with the robust fruit and is overall very well focused, this wine would be fantastic with duck breast and it is quite hedonistic with a nice long finish. California is full of values and excellent wines in all levels, to say otherwise is nonsense, in particular I highly recommend checking out Alfaro Family Vineyards, these are real serious wine that are also crowd pleasing,  with many outstanding wines priced between $20 and $40, like this one, which are savvy and stylish.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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