Pinot noir doesn’t suffer fools.
That’s how Adam Lee sees it.
Lee is the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner, the Siduri, 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at $35.
“With some other grape types you can try and produce a less expensive bottling by taking yields up somewhat or cutting a few corners on farming,” Lee said. “Not too much, but you can get away with that stuff a bit to reduce your costs and make a less expensive wine. Pinot noir doesn’t allow for that. You are always aiming for the fences, sometimes just to hit a single.”
The Siduri is a juicy pinot weighted to red fruit, with notes of mushroom, mineral and pepper. It’s layered, with a silky texture and it has nice length. What makes it a standout is its generous, concentrated fruit. It’s impressive.
Asked what makes him a good fit to be a winemaker, Lee joked “perhaps a bit of a masochistic streak? In all honesty, it is a love of wine. I know that sounds trite, but I truly love wine…”
Lee has a broad geographic reach when producing pinot noir, from Santa Barbara to Oregon. But the winemaker of Siduri Wines said making wine wasn’t something he ever imagined himself doing.
“I actually thought, for a long time, that I would be a wine writer,” Lee said. “But eventually, at the urging of my wife, Dianna Novy, I decided to give winemaking a shot and she was right. I loved it. The idea of creating one thing out of something different has proved to be incredibly exciting for me. It is one of the great challenges of my life.”
Lee, 52, went to Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, graduating with a degree in French history, specializing in the comparative history of the French and American prison systems. It’s an unlikely background for the winemaker of a cutting-edge brand.
As for the house style of his pinot noir, Lee said he isn’t necessarily shooting for a style.
“I realize it sounds trite, but I am looking for balance,” he said. “In warmer years, don’t go too ripe,” Lee said. “In cooler years, don’t go too lean. Look for something that balances out the natural characteristics of what the vintage gives you.”