The summer of 2008 brought brush fires in northern California, and Anderson Valley winemakers were distressed to learn that smoke had permeated the grape skins and tainted the aromas and flavors of their Pinot Noir wines. Some wineries were more affected than others, but Londer Vineyards' owners and winemakers were particularly unhappy about the smoke taint in their wines--unhappy enough to sell the wines at deep discount. And that decision has made me very happy.
The second bottle of a case I bought from Russo and Sons in Grand Rapids seems to have less of the smokey quality than the first bottle. Or maybe I have just gotten used to it. I smell pomegranates, cherries, dark plums, flowers, anise...and smoke. Smoke is still there, but it doesn't hide the charm of a high-quality Pinot Noir. The mouthfeel is special--velvety yet firm. Classic Pinot. Great balance of fruit and acidity. Dark cherry flavors open up on the mid-palate and carry through into a long, complex finish. Unless you're looking for it, the smoke becomes a minor issue.
For a $40 wine discounted to $5.99, I can take a little smoke. And because the sellers were honest about the problem, I am anxious to try Londer Pinot Noir in another vintage...without smoke.