This post was written courtesy of Heinen’s resident Wine Expert, Ed Thompkins.
At Heinen’s, we believe that while there are many ways to find outstanding wines for our customers, one of the most impactful opportunities is to travel directly to the source and form personal connections with the people and places that create liquid magic out grapes.
It was on a recent trip to California’s Arroyo Grande Valley, just north of Santa Barbara along California’s beautiful Pacific Coast, that we faced a ‘brutal’ decision. After a day of tasting stunning examples of the impeccable Pinot Noir’s produced by our old friend Eric Hickey at Laetitia Winery, we could only select one to bring back to our customers. The wine we chose would become one of the wines honoring Heinen’s 90th Anniversary, so the pressure was on. We knew that the wine would need to appropriately represent an important milestone.
Our team tasted stunning wines made from the many different clones of Pinot Noir that are planted at the Laetitia estate. We honestly began to wonder if in fact, we could settle on just one wine. The spectrum of aromas and tastes were dazzling – notes of cherry, mushroom, earth, spice and cloves seemed to conspire into a “Pinot Noir frenzy.”
This was the moment when Eric spoke wistfully, like a proud parent, about each wine. He shared individual stories of how one was grown on a hillside which allowed the grapes to receive the most abundant sun during the day, while another was a blend of newer clones, and yet another received extended oak aging. We planned the timing of our trip well because we also got to witness the harvesting processes that contribute these wines’ stories. See video below.
Once we learned the context of each wine, we felt like we knew them even better, and thus, appreciated them even more! That was until a wine that caught our attention from the start seemed to blossom in our glasses, demanding our attention and our palates practically begging us to take it home! It was clear that we had found the one.
The 2016 Laetitia Clone 667 Pinot Noir ($24.99) represents everything we were looking for in a wine that delivers an exceptional Pinot Noir experience. Deep, rich black fruit flavors combine with complex notes of white pepper and subtle nutmeg aromas, leading to a round and sultry finish. We hope that our partnership with Laetitia and our journey to find this exquisite Pinot Noir has brought our customers a wine that is worthy of our nine decade celebrations and any personal milestones to come this year. This wonderful wine is meant to be served with good food and great food, and we thank our customers for allowing us to share it.