Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Tondre Wines 2003 Pinot Noir, Tondre Grapefield  (Santa Lucia Highlands)

Tondre Wines

2003 Pinot Noir, Tondre Grapefield
(Santa Lucia Highlands)

Tondré Alarid, a vegetable farmer in the Salinas Valley, owned some land in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The sloping benchland isn’t the best place to grow row crops, but he noticed that a lot of people were putting in wine grapes. So he and his son Joe started planting Pinot Noir in 1997 on the property, which is in the heart of the AVA. They started with two clones on 6½ acres.

Since then, the plantings have grown to 52 acres, all Pinot Noir, and the vineyard is now owned by Joe Alarid and his wife, Penny. The name “Grapefield” is a nod to Tondré, who planted broccoli and lettuce fields and, now, a grape field. At first, the grapes were sold to David Bruce, who bottled a vineyard-designate Tondré Pinot. Now they’re sold to wineries such as Silver Mountain, Sonnet, Morgan, Tudor and Cima Collina.

The winemaker is Tony Craig, who made the early Tondré Pinots at David Bruce and now uses the grapes at Silver Mountain as well as in his own label, Sonnet. All the Tondré Grapefield Pinots I’ve tasted have a ripeness and intensity that’s typical of the appellation, but they never stray from their essential Pinot-ness. This Tondré Pinot, which retails for $43, is firmly structured, with spicy flavors of raspberry and rhubarb and a hint of mineral. It’s a wine that should continue to age well for several years.

Reviewed October 24, 2006 by Laurie Daniel.

The Wine

Winery: Tondre Wines
Vineyard: Tondre Grapefield
Vintage: 2003
Wine: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Grape: Pinot Noir
Price: 750ml $43.00

Review Date: 10/24/2006

The Reviewer

Laurie Daniel

Laurie Daniel, wine columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, has been reviewing wine for more than 10 years. She doesn’t use numbers, preferring to describe her recommended wines and let consumers decide for themselves. Laurie believes that bigger isn’t necessarily better; she’s partial to wines of balance, finesse and character. Her particular interests are Pinot Noir (versions that really taste like Pinot, that is) and aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.