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’06 Cellar Rat Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Since the beginning, I have been a big fan of the concept of Crushpad Wine.  However, being a fan of their business concept and being an advocate based on their wines are two different things.

I was straddling the line between being the equivalent of a business admirer versus being a stark, raving consumer fan.  I knew that they had produced a couple of nice wines in their first few vintages, but, just the same, the proof is in the palate, my palate that is, and I hadn’t actually tasted any of their vino.

I might be crossing the chasm to stark, raving consumer fan given the first two bottles from the case that I have had of the ’06 Cellar Rat Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

I signed up relatively late for Alan Baker’s Cellar Rat wine project (chronicled here), and I am glad I did, not missing the opportunity.  As explained by Alan on his site, he, essentially, spent his last bit of savings to make this wine, hoping that it was a good bet not only for quality, but also for realizing his wine dream.

It was a good bet.  Wow.  This is nice juice.  And, he got a job out of the deal, too, now working with and for Michael Brill, Crushpad CEO on their Crushnet initiative.

For Alan, this is a boutique project—boutique as in small—not boutique as in kind of small.  I think total production of the Cellar Rat Cellars Pinot is 75 cases.  Given the smallness of the project, it makes the $42 bottle price, while, yes, a bit dear, worth every penny. 

The Pinot is a very nice balance between having some of the “Old World” food-friendly acid and earthiness components that you would expect alongside some amazingly succulent California fruit upfront, all done in a restrained manner; it is not blowsy or rendered too tightly.

The thing that I like most about this wine, however, is its natural state.  According to Alan, who generously spent a 1 ½ hours with me in May of ’07 doing barrel samples, is the wine went into fermentation with natural yeasts—no inoculation.  Which, given Crushpad’s location in San Francisco, makes that fact pretty cool, particularly given the result.  The other good decision that Alan made with the wine is to not filter it.  It has obviously been fined, but not to the extent where it is completely free of all wine detritus.  It is clear, but not brilliant and there is a rustic quality to the wine that, when paired with the earthiness in the flavor profile, makes it a special wine.

Alan thinks it will age for the next five years or so—the acid and the subtle oak influence being indicators that it needs some time to reach its peak. This, alongside the fact that a little decanting really opens up the wine, particularly on the nose, gives indication that its best days may be in the months/years to come. However, in my humble opinion, this wine will not last five years, at least not in my house.  I will drink it before it sees its peak, color me impatient if you must. 

The ’06 Cellar Rat Cellars Anderson Valley (Wentzel Vineyard) Pinot Noir also just won a Bronze medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition against some notable competition.  Other Bronze Pinot winners in this price range include DeLoach, Consentino, Londer, Navarro, MacMurray and others.  It is good company.

Alan tells me that there is a very small quantity of the wine left.  If you are interested in picking up a bottle or three you can do so with the commerce functionality that Alan has set-up.  (found here)

Quoting New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov (here) in regards to Pinot Noir, he says, “… No other wine forges as direct a path to the soul.”  With the quality of the Cellar Rat wine and the story of how it came to be with Alan Baker, I would have to say I think Asimov is right on target.

My tasting note is found here.


Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (4) |


On 01/22, Marco Montez wrote:

I was excited to meet Alan and taste the Cellar Rat PN back in early December.  I thought this Pinot was excellent.  My only complain about Alan is that he needs to get back into podcasting.  Alan, if you read this… no more excuses of the “I’m so busy at Crushpad” type.

On 01/22, Jeff wrote:

Hey Marco,

Thanks for reading the site—and I’m glad you’re independently corroborating how good this Cellar Rat vino is.  An inspired effort, and I think it’s the first time they’ve sourced fruit from that vineyard.

And, I agree.  Alan needs to get back to the podcasting. Unless he’s working on Sunday’s, I know he has a spare hour or two!  grin


On 03/26, Nathan Hudson wrote:

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On 05/18, TN Pas Cher wrote:

ng the site—and I’m glad you’re independently corroborating how good this Cellar Rat vino is.


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