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2012 Hitching Post “Quinta del Mar” Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo County, California (Alcohol 13.3%) LCBO Vintages $58.95

Well, it appears that I am on something of a Californian wine love-in this month. What with me being enamoured by the Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay last week (five blooming apples!), this week sees me shedding many an ivory tear over a delicious Pinot Noir from a little further south in the Golden State.

There was a time, some 10 or so years ago when, due to some particular romantic relations, I was down in California every six months or so. Over the course of a good few visits I actually got to know the environs of San Luis Obispo rather well, and so I was delighted to see the SLO designation on this wine when it arrived at the door yesterday.

While this Hitching Post Quinta del Mar probably won’t come anywhere close to being a Burghound’s wet-dream-in-a-bottle (let’s face it, apples and oranges), it really is a damn fine example of Californian Pinot Noir, and one of the most enjoyable I have had from the Hartley/Ostini stable in quite some time… and I’ve taken much pleasure from rather a lot of their juice over the past decade.

Doesn't time fly. 10 years ago with Hitching Post Co-Vigneron Gray Hartley. Thank goodness I moved out of this phase of wearing terrible stripey shirts.

Doesn’t time fly? 10 years ago with Hitching Post Co-Vigneron Gray Hartley. Thank goodness I moved out of this terrible Paul Smith shirt phase.


The Quinta del Mar is made from fruit from relatively young Pinot vines (clones 115 and 777 for those who care about such things) located on the Nipomo Mesa, just south of the Santa Maria valley. Exhibiting an astonishingly pungent bouquet of ripe blackberry fruit, dessicated black cherry, and beetroot, with delicate touches of both the pretty floral and the hauntingly herbal-smoky. The 25% new French and Hungarian cooperage adds another layer of spicy complexity, but never dominates.

The palate is brisk and fresh, with a gentle and yet firm tannic architecture that surprised me at first, but it is wholly congruous with both the ripe berry fruit profile and the mouthwateringly juicy acidity. Supplementing this already immensely pleasurable mouthful of wine comes a fantastic licorice and herbal element that hangs around on the persistent finish.

I’d put this in the fridge for around 30 minutes before serving, especially with this heat in our current dog days of summer. Pairs fantastically with simple roast pheasant with thyme and rosemary. I actually just recently stepped up my dietary regime and switched from venison to pheasant. It was a real game changer.
4.5 apples out of 5
(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that’s a nice bottle of wine.