2007 Calera ‘Mills’ Pinot Noir: Place Matters

For starters: Happy Halloween and more importantly, Go GIANTS! If you’ve read this far, thank you for your time and let me attempt to waste it no further by getting to the point. Calera’s 2007 Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir is sensational, impressive and a perfect example of why place does matter, especially for Pinot Noir. Josh Jensen is a pioneer, maverick, winemaking trailblazer. In the heated political rhetoric of our times, such words cease to have meaning; however when it comes to the founder of Calera, it is not hyperbole. Back in the early 70’s after training in Burgundy working a harvest at Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and another at Domaine Dujac, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area in search of dirt. The right kind of dirt, what the French call terroir. In Burgundy, Josh was taught that if he wanted to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, he needed to find not just any type of soil, but limestone. In California, limestone is in relative short supply, but after an exhaustive two year search, Josh found what he was looking for: a hillside property with continuous limestone deposits of several million tons, 2,200 feet above sea level on Mt. Harlan in the Gavilan Mountains east of Monterey County. It was there in 1975 that Josh began putting down vines. Mills Vineyard was planted in 1984 on a south-facing slope on its own roots using plant material from the original vineyards. Any mention or review of Calera’s Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir, in any vintage, always mentions the fragrant aromatics and distinguished floral notes; its trademark.
In my highly impressionable early days in the wine biz, I had a colorful mentor who hid a stash of highly prized wines at the shop where we both worked. Though I knew where the stash was hidden, I never intruded, not even a peak. I didn’t have to because when the wine geeks went out to dine, my mentor was at the ready to blow our minds and pull bottles. It was on these occasions that I was introduced to Calera’s Pinot Noirs. My impression of Calera’s Pinot Noirs then, and now, is that they are never boring, never flat, and never without distinction and dimension. I was trolling around on Parker’s Message Board, reading what wine drinkers had to say about Calera Pinot Noir. Calera almost always pops up around discussions of whether or not California Pinot Noirs can age. Time and again, someone mentions some delicious 20 year-old Calera Pinot Noir they drank the night before that still tasted youthful and vibrant. Anecdotal evidence shows that if you are looking for a California Pinot Noir to drink today or age in your cellar, Calera is a sure bet. Check out Parker’s review of the 2007 Mills Vineyards Pinot Noir if I haven’t yet convinced you:
“… the 2007 Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard was cropped at an absurdly low .84 tons of fruit per acre. This beauty offers up notes of forest floor, raspberries, fresh mushrooms, sweet currants, and meat juices. The provocative, riveting aromatics are followed by a medium to full-bodied wine with sweet tannins, dense, chewy, lush fruit, good acidity, and a 40-second finish. Drink this profound Pinot Noir over the next decade or more.” 95 points.

And Allen Meadows from Burghound had this to say:
“A very ripe menthol-infused nose of both red and blue berry fruit aromas slides into rich and full-bodied flavors that retain a good sense of detail on the clean, dry and focused finish.” 89 points.

Good times this week: a trip to a working dairy farm and pumpkin patch with sixty 1st graders, watching people smile as they pick up their super good/super priced case of Bordeaux, putting the finishing touches on costumes and watching some entertaining Baseball! – Anya Balistreri


1 Comment

Filed under Anya Balistreri, California

One response to “2007 Calera ‘Mills’ Pinot Noir: Place Matters

  1. Amen to all things Calera. Been drinking their gems for twenty years, never a disappointing bottle. And if you haven’t read Josh’s newsletter, pour a big glass and sit back in your easy chair and enjoy. Go Josh and team!

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