Byron Vineyard & Winery2004 Pinot Noir
(Santa Maria Valley)
Poor Byron Vineyard and Winery has really been put through the wringer these past
couple years, in terms of ownership. Originally founded by Byron Ken Brown (now at his own
eponymous label), the winery was bought in 1990 by the Robert Mondavi folks, who expanded
the vineyard plantings and built a spanking new gravity flow winery, compactly nestled into the
hillside on the Santa Maria Bench. When Constellation Brands bought out the Mondavi
corporation, they sold Byron to an outfit that eventually declared bankruptcy. So Byron was up
for bid again and the Kendall-Jackson family estates arm was the winner. Through it all,
winemaker Jonathan Nagy and his crew have persevered, never losing their focus on making the
best wines possible.
This Byron entry level Pinot Noir gives off earthy and dark fruit aromatics, including plum, leather and clove. With flavors of damson plums, black cherry and just the right amount of wood spice (25% new French oak), it glides over the palate as a soft and silky elixir. Its tannins are resolved but it still has plenty of oomph on the finish. Pinot Noir like this, with this pedigree and at this price level, doesn’t come along every day.
Reviewed January 25, 2007 by Dennis Schaefer.
Dennis Schaefer has been tasting and writing about wine for over 30 years, propelled by a continuing curiosity and burgeoning enthusiasm for discovering what’s in the bottle. Blessed with catholic tastes, he enjoys everything from the obvious to the sublime. A major requirement is that the vineyard, winery and winemaker consistently perform well and fulfill their potential. Balance, concentration and complexity are key to the tasting experience but, in the end, the purpose of wine is simply to give pleasure.