cortot is correct...we had a chance to taste these wines this weekend at SoCal #(whatever it was). We actually had one person bring a Bien Nacido and another bring a 2009 Solomon Hills! Also, we tasted blind(ish). It's "ish" for me because I saw the top of the bottle and I'm familiar with the Summerland logo, which is stamped on both the capsule and cork. Basically, I knew it was Summerland, but nothing beyond that. So. Here we go.
2010 Summerlan Bien Nacido Pinot Noir
Bright red, clear, with medium colour depth. Aromas were cherry, raspberry, a bit of earth, and an occasional whiff of alcohol. As time went on this got more earthy. Clearly Pinot Noir between the colour and nose.
We were using the deLong's sheets graciously provided by Ron, so I marked down the palate as dry, light/medium body, lively acidity (the middle one), low tannins, and moderate flavour intensity. My notes also indicate that I found it somewhat chalky, with a zippy minerality/acidity, and primarily cherry flavours. I also fund it to be fairly rounded and somewhat simple, plus a hint of oak on the finish, in a way that added complexity rather than detracting from the wine. While this is clearly not Old World fruit, I found this wine to be somewhat "Old World" in intent.
2009 Summerland Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir
Bright, red, and clear with medium colour depth. Slightly more blueish than the Bien Nacido. This was also a little figger in the nose - dark cherry, ripe plum, smoke, and some occasional sniffs that included a certain perception of sweetness. Maybe cola or cherry cough syrup?
Light/medium body, really bright tart acidity, a bit of hard tannin, and a moderate to "flavourful" intensity on the deLong's scale. I found this to be much darker in character. My impression was that it was also fairly tight and with a bit of harsh tannin that hadn't yet resolved itself. Also a hint of greenness, although I think that refers to the tannin rather than the flavour profile.
We drank these blinded, side by side. I think the Bien Nacido is much nicer for drinking right now. There's no need to wait on it, as far as I'm concerned. It's delicious, not too complex, and will go well with food. The 09 Solomon Hills seemed younger than it's cousin, but nonetheless has the sort of structure and power to need another year or two before it's in a harmonious place. For my preferences, if the earth and "Pinot" character do emerge in the Solomon Hills bottling then it will be significantly more interesting and nicer in a few years than the Bien Nacido. Since I didn't get any earthiness, though, I'm not sure whether it will go that direction over time.
As for QPR...$30/bottle + tax/ship puts it around $35/bottle delivered for me. That doesn't make it a super compelling bargain buy, but it is a fair price for well made wine with more of an old world intent than your average California Pinot Noir. If this came in under $25/bottle delivered I'd have to break the siwbm that's in place until I clear out the 7 cases I have nowhere to store.
I stopped counting bottles. My CT