June 5th, 2009

The makers of Saintsbury Wine are interested in pinot noir, not quite exclusively, but almost. More specifically, they are interested in proving that grapes grown in the region they grow in, Carneros, can produce pinot noirs as good as their Burgundian counterparts. Both of the founders of Saintsbury are scientists, and the pragmatism and single-mindedness of science can be seen throughout this quest. Right now, for example, the most prominent feature on their website is a review acknowledging the improvement, over the years, of their pinots. The reviewer likes the 2007 product, but speaks favorably about it at the expense of the efforts of nearly all previous years’ wines. But, he goes pretty far into describing pinot noir cultivation in the region and commends Saintsbury for their work in general. Would another winery display such an article so visibly?

And then there are the screw-top bottles. True, Saintsbury makes three classes of wines and the screw-tops are only found on those in the lowest price range, but the lowest priced Saintsbury wine is still $20 a bottle and with Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck holding strong with corked bottles, it’s really not industry standard yet. But, here again, nerdy pragmatism prevails over the pretensions of their industry. A top that unscrews is infinitely easier than manipulating a cork, and so they are making wines with screw-tops.

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