amp; Wine Magazine has named San Benito County-based Calera Wine
Co.’s 2003 Pinot Noir Selleck Vineyard the best American pinot noir
Hollister – Food & Wine Magazine has named San Benito County-based Calera Wine Co.’s 2003 Pinot Noir Selleck Vineyard the best American pinot noir over $20.
The magazine’s annual awards, announced in the October edition, lauded wines from around the United States. While Napa Valley wineries repeatedly made the list, San Benito County made its mark through Calera’s pinot noir.
Calera Wine Co.’s owner and winemaker Josh Jensen said he knew upon trying the wine it was “really special.”
“Both the 2003 and 2004 vintage have made wines that were immediately appealing. Right after bottling they just tasted yummy,” Jensen said.
He said the winery hadn’t done anything different in creating the wine, instead attributing those years’ balance and taste to “mother nature.”
While he knew right away the pinot noirs from the Selleck Vineyard would be good, it was nice to get the affirmation from the magazine’s award.
A panel of judges selected the championing wines for Food & Wine Magazine. The 30-plus-member panel consisted of wine retailers, distributors and writers, among other experts.
Lettie Teague, the magazine’s executive wine editor, said she was pleased to see Calera’s pinot noir on the list.
“They are really just stunning wines and really well priced,” she said.
Teague said she personally is a “huge fan” of Calera’s pinot noirs. She noted that Jensen had been making true burgundy-style pinots for quite some time.
“He’s one of the pioneers. To be able to give him his due gives me great pleasure,” Teague said.
This style is something that Jensen stands by.
“We make more of a traditionally classic-style table wine versus the giant wines that have been so popular in recent years,” Jensen said.
Calera’s pinot noirs are more a traditional or classic, explained Jensen. He contrasted this with the big and bold flavors of some of the more modern pinot noirs.
“I think that the fact that this wine impressed the judges means there is a return to more balanced and simple wines,” Jensen said.
This was exactly what drew the judges’ panel to 2003 Calera Pinot Noir Selleck Vineyard, Teague said.
“There are a lot of new style (pinot noirs) that have a really big flavor and high alcohol content,” Teague said. “His pinots have such a clarity to them, such a finesse – all those really overused words just absolutely describe it.”
The honor won’t boost Calera’s sales of that vintage of pinot noir from the Selleck Vineyard. But the award could draw attention to Calera and San Benito County’s wineries as a whole.
Al Martinez, executive director of the nonprofit Economic Development Corp., said he felt the wineries were a burgeoning area of the county’s development.
Martinez said it was difficult to compete with the more well-known wine regions, such as Napa, which are internationally known. Any publicity the wineries receive – especially awards – could help improve the county’s wine industry.
“Anything we get is a benefit,” Martinez said. “Any awards we get, it’s a big sign board saying: Look at us. Taste us.”