Last year a mutual acquaintance introduced me to Tondré Alaric while both of us were shopping at the supermarket in Salinas. I was somewhat embarrassed to not be familiar with his name as a leading grower of fine Pinot Noir in the area. Nor did I know that he had his own label, besides selling fruit to a number of wineries.
This evening I finally tried one of his wines, 2009 Tondré Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, $12 per glass at Zeph’s Wine Stop in Salinas. Quite dark in hue, the next impression is spicy black cherry fruit in the nose mingled with granitic minerality. Not toast, not char, not vanilla . . . none of those oak-driven components stick out in the nose. This wine smells like fruit and rocks, not barrels. While weighing in at 14.8% ABV, the balancing acidity lends a nice lift and liveliness that keeps this from being too heavy. Lithe and silky in the mouth, this sensual suppleness carries through to a very long finish. Ready to drink now, a very enjoyable quaff.