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Ancien Pinot Noir Carneros is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir Carneros comes entirely from the Toyon Vineyard, located in the Napa side of Carneros. This vineyard was originally planted for Ancien Wines in 1998 with cuttings tracing back to the Swan estate in Sonoma County and Dijon 115 - followed by cuttings from Ed Penhoet’s vineyard in Carmel Valley. Ed’s selection from River Selection is a story into itself, and is sometimes referred as “Pisoni Clone” since Gary Pisoni took cuttings from the vineyard in the early ‘80s.
Baking spice sings in an endless symphony with wild berry notes, complemented by characteristic Carneros notes of cola. Juicy cherry notes grace the palate and combine seamlessly with anise and hibiscus, ending on a savory note. The palate is round and full of textural, mouth-coating tannins balanced by a bright acidity. Broad chewy tannins, earthy spices and minerality complement the fruit and exotic floral notes of this wine. The palate of this delicious wine will continue to develop in opulence over years of aging, revealing even darker layers and an increasingly smooth texture.
"Pale to medium ruby-purple colored, the 2018 Pinot Noir shoots from the glass with bold scents of juicy red plums, Bing cherries and raspberry leaves, plus hints of rhubarb, dried Provence herbs and damp soil. Medium-bodied, delicately styled and refreshing with fine-grained tannins, it has a spicy kick to the finish. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #257, October 2021), 90 pts
The Ancien Estate Wines
The Estate is owned by Ken and Teresa Bernards whose combined experience is moving into its 3rd decade, having made acclaimed wines for other producers prior to focusing on their own label, Ancien. Their trips to Burgundy filled them with inspiration drawn from the ancient history and tradition of winemaking. While the techniques have constantly been refined, they have been using the same principles of winemaking for generations.
The Ancien Vineyards
Carneros Chardonnay comes from a plant selection, planted on vineyards at the Toyon Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros and the Vella Ranch. Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of two very similar vineyards situated near the Napa-Sonoma county line at the southern end of the appellation. The two vineyards, Domaine Chandon and the Ferguson Ranch, were both planted in 1973. Both are austere sites with lean soils and low vigor. The similarity of site, rootstock, clone and vine age (28 year old) ensure a commonality between the wines. Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir is grown in Steiner Vineyard, at 1100 feet elevation, on the cool northwestern slope, 17 miles from the ocean. The first grapes were planted here in 1973 (making them pioneer of the region). Seeing the unique qualities of grapes grown in this outstanding area, they were a driving force in creating the Sonoma Mountain Appellation. The soils vary through the vineyard changing from clay loamy stuff with fractured ryolite to an austere rocky area. Carneros Pinot Gris is grown on the far southwestern edge at the Sangiacomo family's El Novillero Vineyard (2 acres). The soils and eastern facing orientation are perfect.
Ancien Pinot Noir Fiddlestix is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
The Fiddlestix Vineyard is located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, which straddle the Santa Ynez River as it makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. As an East-West oriented valley, opening its mouth to the cool Pacific breezes, the consistent and cooling marine influence is significant. The vineyard is managed and owned in partnership by Kathy Joseph, who has planted an array of clones and rootstocks on several, varied soils to create a staggering level of diversity from this single vineyard. The remarkably consistent weather, characterized by lower highs and higher lows than our North Coast vineyards, conspires with silica-laden, marine sedimentary soils to make wines of power and exceptional structure.
Fiddlestix always presents a bold Pinot Noir with notes of fruit and exotic spice. As the vines have aged, we noticed more and more underlying depth (they now are approaching their 25th vintage). The nose greets with notes of cassis, Indian spice, and hints of incense. Fresh dark fruits lead the palate, and the focus settles on ripe flavors of blackberry and currants spiced with peppercorn/allspice. Velvety and softly chewy tannins emphasize structure, while ever-present acidity balances and brightens. The spicy aromatics and flavors continue through the long finish.
"This isn't shy, offering up a pretty large core of kirsch and linzer torte notes, while racy red tea, dried anise and savory details add energy along the edges. Nice underlying minerality keeps the fruit honest through the finish, too. Drink now through 2030. 230 cases made. — JM"
- Wine Spectator (August 2022), 94 pts
Ancien Pinot Noir Russian River Jouissance is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Jouissance comes from the southwestern corner of the appellation, only nominally protected by the coastal hills and open to the maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean, is the single source for these grapes. The soils here are sandy loam and very well drained, typical for the Russian River Valley. The cooler sections of Russian River, near Sebastopol, are known for producing explosive and aromatic fruit flavors balanced with acidity and earthy aromas. All seventeen rows are planted with Dijon 115 clone, nudging the wine toward perfumed aromas and light spice notes as a compliment to the lush fruitiness derived from the soils.
Notes of strawberry and tart pie cherry are accompanied by notes of sweet vanillin, toasted hazelnut and coffee as an introduction to this joyfully juicy blend of rich fruit and earthy spice. The wine opens to a well integrated mid-palate of dark berries, toffee and cassis. The broad palate is elevated and brightened with a mouthwatering acidity that welcomes this wine to the table. Sassafras, herbal notes and baking spices are revealed in the satisfying finish.
"Enticing, with succulent griotte, loganberry and anise notes driving through, while lightly singed apple wood and bramble accents underscore the finish, where the fruit takes a full encore. Drink now through 2030. 308 cases made. - JM"
- Wine Spectator (August 2022), 93 pts
Argot Pinot Noir Sonoma County is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
Everything you have come to expect from an Argot Pinot Noir, shone through the filter of a textbook-perfect vintage. We simply can not get over the quality of fruit this wine displays! Intense, yet fresh; fruity, yet spicy; brambly, yet juicy; immediate, yet lingering. A Pinot Noir that displays the variety’s natural come-hither attitude, while succinctly capturing its intriguing nature. There are not enough superlatives to describe this wine. Almost too easy to love!
VINEYARD Multiple vineyards throughout Sonoma County, including both valley floor and high-elevation hillside sites
PRODUCTION 600 cases
VARIETAL 100% Pinot Noir
CRUSH Night harvested by hand beginning in mid-September, concluding at our coolest sit on October 13. Cluster and berry sorted by hand, de-stemmed, no crushing
FERMENT 7-day cold soaks, followed by native fermentation in open-top containers, with the grapes fermenting on their skins for an average time of 14 days.
AGING 16 months, French oak barrels, 7% new, remainder once-used. Never racked prior to bottling. Bottled un-fined, unfiltered.
NOTES Singularly great. 2018 was an all-time vintage for California’s North Coast, achieving rarely before experienced heights. A mild summer gave way to Autumnal perfection, allowing cooler areas the opportunity to ripen their crop while chemistries remained perfect. What arrives in bottle is nothing short of a pinnacle representation of Sonoma County Pinot Noir — profound depth of pure, red Pinot Noir fruits, caressing textures balanced by deep minerality and a quenching acidity.
Kynsi Pinot Noir Edna Valley is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
The Edna Valley was one of the first registered appellations in California and boasts a rich agrarian history. The coastal terrain features varied soil types that are predominantly marine in origin, with ancient volcanic influences. The unusual transverse ranges allows the appellation to open up to the cooling breezes of the Pacific Ocean from nearby Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. The climate is strongly influenced by the ocean providing ideal, temperate growing conditions for Pinot Noir. Early spring warming, mild summer temperatures and late arriving cold fall temperatures and rain provide a long growing season for the development of rich color with concentrated and complex flavors.
Light berry and cherry aromas are fresh, crisp and inviting on the nose of this wine, which also offers light vanilla and star anise notes. There is a decent structure to the palate, where strong acidity cuts against the fruity flavors, and baking spice warms the tart finish.
-Wine Enthusiast 92 Points
Lismore Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir
Complex bouquet of crushed rose petals, wild jasmine and fresh French herbs followed by a palate full of cranberry, raspberry and a long savory finish.
The grapes were picked at optimal ripeness. 30% whole bunch fermented in large 5000 liter vats with gentle pump-overs twice a day. The process allowed for a long extraction period which lends to the fruit expression and structure of this wine. The free run wine was drained off and the fermented grapes were then pressed in a traditional wooden basket press. The wine was racked into 225, 300 and 500 liter barrels where malolactic fermentation took place and the wine was aged for 10 months. 35% new French oak was used.
"The 2018 Pinot Noir comes from Walker Bay and Kaaimansgat and includes 30% whole-bunch fruit, aged for 11 months in 25% new oak. The bouquet sports vivid red cherry and raspberry fruit that is exceptionally well defined and beautifully integrated with the oak. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, well-judged acidity and a slightly fleshy texture. There is just the right amount of salinity here, and the finish is kept on a tight leash, allowing the detail and precision to be fully expressed. A slight sour edge on the finish keeps you coming back for another sip. Excellent and reassuringly classy. - Neal Martin" - Antonio Galloni's Vinous (November 2019), 92 pts
"Walker Bay and Elandskloof are the twin sources of 30% whole bunch-fermented Pinot from Sam O'Keefe. Juicy, floral and charming, it's a graceful, fruit forward style with some clove and tobacco spice and refreshing acidity. The finish is a little firmer than I remember. 2020-24"- Tim Atkin (South Africa 2020 Special Report), 92 pts
Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.
The 2018 Unforgettable was harvested and vinified separately for its unique qualities. After an initial five-day soak, the fruit fermented in three-ton fermenters with pump overs twice daily. Freshness, power and persistence. Unforgettable offers up a delightful balance of jammy blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry with lively aromas of violets, lilac and pennyroyal.
A dark heart of black fruit centers this complex and well-balanced wine. Enticing, spicy clove, cedar and earth aromas lead to a supersmooth but well-structured palate that reveals black-cherry, rhubarb and black-tea nuances. It's distinctive and should age well in the mid-term. Best from 2023. Jim Gordon
-Wine Enthusiast 94 Points
The 2018 Pinot Noir Unforgettable is built on texture and creaminess. It offers a bit more mid-palate structure than some of the other wines in the range. The mix of mostly Pommard and Wadensvil clones works so well here. Silky and open-knit, the 2018 can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring.
-Vinous 93 Points
The nose is refreshing and youthful, with intriguing notes of of raspberry and strawberry, very complex and intense, showing a well-defined hint of white pepper. The entrance is voluptuous with sweet pure fruit. The tannins are easily detectable but velvety and beautifully integrated. It is a harmonious and gentle wine, immediately impressive, yet with structure and framework to insure a long life in the cellar.
Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain is made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
The estate Cabernet Sauvignon is grown primarily along the southwest ridge of the vineyard. The vines produce small berries with bountiful flavor, concentration and intensity, but also a good degree of finesse, excellent structure and layers of complexity that will continue to develop during extended bottle aging for those who want to cellar and age their wines. The wine is powerful, elegant, full-bodied.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.100% free run
Pumpovers and punch-downs, up to 45 day macerations
Native yeast, 5 day cold soaks
22 months in 75% new French oak barrels
Fermented in concrete and stainless closed top tanks.
Another gem is the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Estate, a deep, concentrated, powerful Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that I suspect will be up there with the legendary wines from this terroir. Beautiful cassis, graphite, lead pencil shavings, and damp earth notes give way to a full-bodied effort that has a liqueur of rocks-like minerality, flawless balance, building yet polished tannins, and a great finish. Hide bottles for 4-5 years, and it will evolve for 25-30 years if properly stored. Best After 2026.
-Jeb Dunnuck 98+ Points