2013 Varner "Hidden Block - Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir (Previously $48)

SKU #1183523 93 points Vinous

 The 2013 Pinot Noir Hidden Block is a very pretty, lifted wine. Sweet red cherry, mint and floral notes grace the palate in an understated, surprisingly gracious Pinot from the Varner brothers. The Hidden Block is one of the more delicate, acid-driven Pinots I have tasted from Varner. This is the first block that is picked, which likely contributes to the wine's laid-back personality and expressive aromatics. Drink through 2025. (AG)  (7/2016)

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Price: $29.99
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By: Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/8/2019 | Send Email
This vintage represents the penultimate offering Varner made from grapes grown at the Spring Ridge Vineyard. While this is sad for those who produce Varner and Varner's many fans, we can at least be happy and excited that this vintage represents a high point for the producers' utilization of this vineyard's fruit. Spring Ridge had a very good 2013 season, and Bob and Jim Varner say that the Hidden Block Pinot Noir is the stand out star of the various wines they made that season. The nose opens with baking spices and stewed cherries, a bit of forest floor, and soft aged leather. The palate is fresh and juicy with cherry, clove, star anise, dried red fruits, and a dark cocoa powder finish. Varner Hidden Block Pinot is a wonderful chapter in the Varner's Spring Ridge story.

By: Thomas Smith | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/2/2019 | Send Email
The 2013 Varner offers plenty of earth and smoke on the nose, with darker, richer fruit lurking in the background. This is soft and plush, with elements of candied cherry and mocha chocolate. This is all smooth sweetness of fruit, and showing absolutely beautifully right now.

By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/2/2019 | Send Email
I'll give you the bad news first: Brothers Jim and Bob Varner are no longer working with the Spring Ridge Vineyard site in the Santa Cruz Mountains and their contribution to the appellation will be sorely missed. The good news: they made a great deal with us on this delicious bottling from 2013. The 2013 Hidden Block is drinking beautifully, really benefiting from some time in bottle and starting to show some lovely secondary development notes. It's still quite a deeply fruited, rich wine, but as the primary fruit slowly wanes some of the more earthy, sous bois, savory notes have come to the fore. The wine opens nicely in the glass and shows more layers as minutes go by. A very soft, velvet texture and lovely length on the palate match the aromatic profile perfectly. A great opportunity here to grab some seriously classy, ready to drink Pinot Noir from and top-notch producer at a one-time price.

By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/1/2019 | Send Email
Our favorite twin winemaking brothers have done it again with a local treasure of distinctly Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir. Unfortunately, even though the Varner brothers have been making wine from this vineyard for 15 years, they have since lost their lease, making this one of the last vintages of Spring Ridge. Dusky and earthy with soft fruits and a medium body, this is one I will be reaching for again and again heading into the Fall. This is going to make a great Thanksgiving wine.

By: Ari Gorfain | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/29/2019 | Send Email
Nestled about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean at elevations between 600 and 700+ feet, "The Hidden Block" is one of several distinct blocks of Spring Ridge Vineyard that Varner has vinified individually. Hand-farmed since 1980, this luscious Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir delivers an uncanny combination of perfume, depth, and balance. Bursting with aromas of cherry, fruits des bois, anise, black tea and allspice, this wine finishes with a hint of herbaceous savoriness. With its limited production, surprising affordability and the loss of their lease in 2014, the 2013 Varner Hidden Block Spring Ridge Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir is definitely worth snagging.

By: Ryan Moses | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/19/2019 | Send Email
The Santa Cruz Mountain single vineyard bottlings from Varner have been sorely missed ever since they lost their contracts after the 2014 vintage. To see one available again, in a perfect drinking window, at this kind of price, is a bit jaw-dropping for a fan of the wines like myself. Nuanced aromas of cedar, cut red flower, and cranberry evolve with some air, leading to flavors of blackberry and currant. Textured and deep, the '13 Hidden Block hits all the right notes and would still be a steal at a much higher price.

Additional Information:


Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.5