Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir 2014

Light ruby color; red cherry, herbs, marjoram, some smoke on the nose; vivid red cherry and sour cherry, cranberry, sagebrush and various other herbs, red currant on the palate.

Intriguing Monterey pinot with unexpected tastes. Presents many more herbs and curious flavors than typical pinot; rusticity, significant minerality, surprisingly assertive acidity and tannin. Complex with a finish delivering red currant bite and tartness; toss 14.3% alcohol into the mix. Medium body, tart fruitiness with distinctive character.

There will be folks who find this too rustic, angular, and contrarian for a pinot—they likely swoon over ethereals from Willamette Valley. Others, on the other hand, will celebrate its quirky surprise flavors and unanticipated directions built around a core of tart cherry, likely engendered by the unusually hardscrabble vineyard Robb Talbott created—in the face of conventional wisdom—in 1982 on the shale slopes of the Carmel Valley. If you want to experience terroir, twist a cap on Talbott (yes, of course, this is screwcap).

Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir 2014 is different than you expect; it is complex and challenging, something you almost never see at this price point. Clearly an experience wine drinkers who eschew the same-old same-old should find and explore. $18-20

Talbott Vineyard website

Other photos: Robb Talbott; Talbott vineyard in Carmel Valley