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October 27, 2012

The Neely Collection

The Neely wines are made by the Varners, one of the hottest boutique producers in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We knew the brothers Varner back when they were importers of French wines, amd that experience might explain their European sensibilities in the cellar with both their Chardonnays and Neely Pinots. Dr. Kirk Neely is the owner of the Spring Ridge vineyard and the wines are blends of selected barrels from the various vineyard blocks. The production is very small and some of the juice gets bottled iuner the Varner labels. We will use Antonio Galloni's commentary on the wines in general:

"... As always, the Varner and Neely wines were fermented in barrel, with native yeasts, natural fermentation and minimal handling. These broad-shouldered Chardonnays and deep, resonant Pinots remain some of the most compelling wines being made in California."

The production levels are in the 300-400 case range per vineyard, and the 2009 vintage was shorter than normal. Since these wines are so limited, we decided it might be fun to put together an assortment from two different vintages. We have notes on the wines below. We used Burghound for the 2008s and Anotonio Galloni for the 2009s since Allen Meadows had not yet reviewed the 2009s. Galloni was not the designated California reviewer for the 2008s, Robert Parker was, and, to be honest, did not 'get' these cooler-edged, Burgundian styled Pinots. Galloni is also the Burgundy writer for Advocate.

2008 reviews by Allen Meadows (Burghound):

Neely 2008 Pinot Noir-Spring Ridge Vineyard Hidden Block: An attractively layered nose of pretty violet and plum aromas slides gracefully into the round, delicious and suave middle weight flavors that possess mid-palate concentration as well as good if not truly special finishing depth and length. There is a slight trace of backend warmth but it's not really enough to detract from the overall appeal of this easy-to-like effort.

Neely 2008 Pinot Noir-Spring Ridge Vineyard Picnic Block:The nose is compositionally similar to the Hidden Block cuvée but there is better freshness and a bit more elegance present as well. The vibrant and delicious flavors possess an opulent mouth feel as this is very rich yet the finish is focused and well-balanced

Neely 2008 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Vineyard Upper Picnic Block: There is better aromatic breadth to the pretty combination of spice and floral elements on the red and blue pinot fruit suffused nose. The supporting tannins are slightly more pronounced on the rich and generous medium-bodied flavors that terminate in a balanced and solidly persistent finish. Lovely.

.2009 reviews by Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate)

Neely 2009 Pinot Noir- Spring Ridge Vineyard Hidden Block: Readers will find a wine of extraordinary textural finesse and elegance in the 2009 Pinot Noir Hidden Block. Sweet dried cherries, flowers, mint and hard candy are some of the notes that take shape in the glass. The finish turns a bit ethereal, but there is more than enough depth in the fruit to make me think the 2009 will drink well for a number of years.

Neely 2009 Pinot Noir-Spring Ridge Vineyard Picnic Block: The 2009 Pinot Noir Picnic Block is a bit brighter and more floral than the Hidden Block. Roses, tar, licorice and sweet red cherries flesh out in this radiant, deeply expressive Pinot. A hint of ash and cured meats add complexity and intrigue on the virile, powerful finish. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2019.

Neely 2009 Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Vineyard Upper Picnic Block Although it is the most overtly fruit-driven and pliant of the Pinots, the 2009 Pinot Noir Upper Picnic has plenty of underlying structure. Juicy red berries, and sweet spices wrap around the palate. The Upper Picnic is all about balance and harmony. There is no shortage of that here. The Upper Picnic remains classic and on the sturdy side. A little bottle age will only help. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020.


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