I guess I’m thankful Tower Wine & Spirits is located in my new “transitional” Atlanta neighborhood near where Piedmont meets Cheshire Bridge. While I live in Boston, I have been spending a lot of time working in Atlanta and it made sense to skip the hotel scene and just get an apartment. With lots of open evenings and the Tower wine shop only a few streets away, too many bottles are haphazardly staged in my closet waiting to make the trip back to my cool Boston cellar. Tonight I grabbed and opened a bottle of (***1/2 $28) 2008 Lemelson Vineyards Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir and drank something I never would have guessed was a sub $50 Pinot had I tasted it blind.
This evening sits in the middle of last week’s return from South Africa’s winelands and tomorrow’s trek to Virginia’s Charlottesville wine region and the Wine Bloggers Conference. Periods like this overwhelm me if I stop to think about the range of wines that hold my interest, requiring a never ending stream of educational inspection. But I had not tasted Lemelson’s wines before, including the 2009 Thea’s Selection that Lemelson just released earlier this month, and 2008 was such a classic Oregon Pinot vintage that I was glad to see a few bottles hanging around. I craved Pinot after bathing in dreamy Swartland Chenin Blancs for the last couple of weeks. It turns out the Carlton, OR winery made a significant investment in their state of the art gravity flow Pinot winery employing organically focused, responsible farming approaches with a vision to craft unique Pinot Noirs. It showed.
The 2008 Thea’s Selection offers black cherry and incense aromatics, with field herbs and damp earth marrying up in the nose to create an alluring funkiness. Floral notes add several degrees of beauty. The wine is rich and elegant but never fat or dense. Its mouthfeel is silky and backed with good supporting acidity and freshness. There is a little trace of heat in the finish injecting a rugged trait to this elegant wine. Overall it is an outstanding, yummy, and delicious quality Pinot Noir. I can not think of too many sub-$30 Pinots that reflect such true varietal character and unique style.
Also discovered today at Tower was the 2007 Raymond Usseglio Cuvee Imperiale Chateauneuf du Pape. I have not tried the wine yet, and just hope that the turn of the century old Grenache vines that produce the fruit for this wine managed well enough through the hot 2007 Southern Rhone vintage. I know Robert Parker (note: he’s in love with the ’07 CDP vintage that produced a plethora of ripe and chewy wine) thinks it did, awarding points in the high nineties and all kinds of laudatory praise. In any event, Tower had the wine for $50, which is $25-$30 cheaper than anywhere else. They have one case left, so if you live in Atlanta (and now that I secured my own) you might want to run over and grab that case. It could be a super buy.
I am still trying to decide if it is a good or bad thing filling lonely evenings in Atlanta with regular trips to Tower.