We had our wine dinner with Evening Land Vineyards the other night at AOC and it was quite a night. Winery owner Mark Tarlov spoke throughout the meal about the wines, their philosophy and plans for the future. They have a lot that they are developing between vineyards they are planting in California, the wines that they are making in Oregon and the ones that they are making in France. I'm truly excited about all of this because I'm a big fan of this project, as well as the consulting winemaker Dominique Lafon.
Mark was very generous with his time and his wine that evening as he pulled out little surprises for our guests: a Pouilly-Fuissé here, a rosé there and even a Beaujolais. By the end, our guests had consumed far more wine than they had ever expected. It was at the culmination of the night that he served everyone a taste of his special baby, his RTB 7. This wine was developed under the advice of Lafon who instructed to him to set aside his favorite barrel of wine and bottle it for himself with the name RTB, which stands for "Rouge Très Bon," or in English, "Red Very Good." The wine has no front label to speak of, just the letters Rtb7 scribbled in white chalk ink on the front, like a barrel sample bottle that one would find in a winery's laboratory.
This wine was the hit of the night with its velvety texture and plummy fruit quality. This particular bottling was the 2007 Pinot Noir from the Occidental Vineyard in Sonoma. It was made by Sashi Moorman, who is the winemaker for the Sonoma and Santa Rita Hills parts of the Evening Land project, and definitely shows his signature. It has the concentration and ripeness that is so much a part of Moorman's Syrahs, but with the finesse and acidity that is the hallmark of Pinot. It was lush without being jammy, fleshy without being flabby. Everyone at the dinner could see why he saved this wine for himself with its seductive balance of fruit, texture and acidity.
Fortunately for those of us who don't live with Mark, and don't have access to the precious few cases of RTB, we have the 2007 Evening Land, Two Daughters Vineyard Pinot Noir. Much like the RTB, this is a wine of texture and richness. Dark plum and figgy fruit notes here are balanced with a fine acidity and spiciness that one expects from Sonoma Pinot. It is layered and complex, with exotic aromas and structured nuances that keep the wine in a flirty discourse on the palate. It is clearly a play of right brain versus left brain, apparently much like his two daughters for whom the vineyard is named. And although I'm normally more of a fan of his Oregon wines, it is pretty hard to deny both the seductive and intellectual qualities of this one.
I'm looking forward to more Evening Land dinners in the future and tasting all of the wines that they are making in France. They are definitely keeping things interesting, and proving time and again that red (is) very good.