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Fort Ross Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2017

ID No: 448214
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 Wine Advocate: 92 Wine Spectator: 93 92 Points
Organic:Yes
Vintage:2017
Bottle Size:750 ml
Product Description

Fort Ross Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir. 

Bright aromas of raspberry and bing cherry meld with earthy spice and a hint of licorice. Cherry, raspberry and red plum greet the palate followed by savory touches. Refined, supple tannins and the Fort Ross Vineyard signature minerality are revealed through the layered, mouthwatering finish. With its vibrant acidity and extraordinary balance this classic coastal Pinot Noir will elegantly evolve.

Review:

Lots of redcurrants, mulled cherries, and spicy, dried herb-like notes emerge from the 2017 Pinot Noir Fort Ross Vineyard, a medium-bodied, elegant Pinot Noir with ripe tannins and terrific overall balance. It shows the more savory, concentrated style of the vintage and is an outstanding, complex 2017 to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years or so.

-Jeb Dunnuck 92 Points

Scented of cranberries and red and black cherries with nuances of charcuterie, dusty earth and woodsmoke, the 2017 Pinot Noir Estate Fort Ross Vineyard has a light to medium-bodied palate with a good interplay of fruit, earth and meaty nuance. It has a grainy, fresh frame and finishes long.

-Wine Advocate 92 Points

Suave, with a delicate mix of vibrant cherry, currant and huckleberry flavors that are backed by crunchy acidity. Shows minerally richness on the fine-textured finish. Drink now through 2025. 627 cases made.

-Wine Spectator 93 Points


Winery: Fort Ross

In 1988 owners Lester and Linda Schwartz purchased a section of virgin forest and grasslands in the high coastal ridges of the Sonoma coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Told by academics that it was too risky plant a vineyard on these cool, foggy coastal ridges so close to the Ocean they were undeterred. After experimenting for several years with assorted clones, rootstocks and trellising systems they concluded that the property had the potential to grow exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 1994, after carefully sourcing exceptional heritage clones whose attributes they believed would reveal the terroir and varietal typicity, they began to prepare and plant the first vineyard blocks. Lester and Linda spent many days personally digging plant holes and planting vines as they meticulously laid out their 53-acre vineyard with roads, underground drainage and irrigation systems while developing and building a reservoir and designing a custom trellis system.

In tribute to their South African heritage, they sourced Pinotage bud wood from the original founding blocks in that country, and became the first private growers to import grapevine cuttings through the Foundation Plant Services that operates alongside the U.C. Davis School of Viticulture and Enology.

Today, Lester and Linda work closely with Jeff Pisoni, who came to Fort Ross as winemaker in 2009. They regularly walk the vineyard, making viticultural decisions and ultimately determining when best to harvest each block. Lester and Linda continue to oversee the day-to-day vineyard operations. Having worked tirelessly to carve this spectacular vineyard out of an untamed, extreme location, they have proved the academics wrong.

Vineyard:

Clinging to the steep ridgetops of the Sonoma Coast at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the high elevation and diverse terroir of Fort Ross Vineyard set it apart in the world of fine wine. A mile from the ocean the vineyard is the closest to the Pacific Ocean in California. The 32 small, mountain-vineyard blocks traverse 53 acres that rise in elevation from 1,200 to 1,700 feet above sea level. These former grasslands spread north/south over a mountainous 975-acre area, an equation that leaves over 95% of the property’s native forest untouched. Varying in size from one-half to two acres, each small block has its own particular terroir and is planted with rootstocks, varietals, and clones, or field selections, best suited to reveal the terroir, varietal typicity, and clonal attributes. During the growing season the temperature ranges between 55 and 85 degrees. In response, Fort Ross Vineyard is planted to three varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage. These heritage clones and field selections produce low yields with small bunches and berries that deliver wines of great fruit character and vibrancy.

The climatic and topographical conditions of Fort Ross Vineyard make farming a continuing challenge that requires a vine-by-vine approach with most work done by hand. Vineyard crews use narrow-gauge crawler tractors on some hillside areas, and even then, there are some blocks that are so steep they can only be reached on foot. Yields are naturally low, but in years when the berry set is higher, fruit is dropped to reach proper ripeness and balance. Sustainable growing practices ensure the health of the vineyard, including cover crops, integrated pest management, and erosion control measures. As the grapes ripen, netting is installed over each row to protect the fruit from birds that flock from the adjacent forests.

With its marine sedimentary soils, long, bright sunny days, gentle sea breezes, fog, and cool maritime-climate, these steep coastal ridges have become one of the most highly prized cool-climate growing regions in California. The vineyard benefits from the cool air and ocean breezes, is above the fog line during most of the daylight hours, and get enough sun and warmth to bring grapes to complete physiological ripeness.

In January 2012, Fort Ross Vineyard became part of the new, rigorously defined Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area (AVA) which established the region as separate and distinct from all other wine growing regions in California.


Winemaking:

Philosophy: The approach to winemaking at Fort Ross is gentle and minimalistic, as the aim is to produce exceptional wines that truly express the terroir and topography of this unique coastal vineyard. The vision is to create wines that reveal their fruit with elegant structure, balance and finesse.

Harvest to Barrel: Winemaker, Jeff Pisoni, and Owners Lester and Linda work closely together, repeatedly walking the vineyard, carefully tasting the grapes from each block. During the cool morning hours, each block is hand-picked into small trays, sometimes with several passes through a single block to ensure ideal fruit ripeness and acid balance. Grapes are hand sorted, destemmed, cold soaked for several days then fermented in simple open top fermenters and manually punched down. Shortly after pressing, the wines are aged in a combination of new and neutral French oak barrels. All of the wines – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage – are fermented using native yeast, which lengthens the process and changes its dynamic. It takes longer to initiate fermentation with native yeast, and the progression is slower, but according to winemaker Jeff Pisoni, “the results are more distinctive and complex.”

Art of Blending: Throughout winemaking, clones and blocks are kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components. Blending trials determine how to combine the different clones into distinct wines that best reflect their component flavor profiles. Bottling the wines unfined and unfiltered is another minimalistic choice that helps to preserve vineyard expression and the wines’ pristine fruit, as well as contribute beautiful texture. Pisoni acknowledges that it’s not always the easiest road but he insists that the less intervention the better. “You have to be really cautious and careful, just as with native fermentation. It takes constant observation, both through tasting and under the microscope, but bottling without filtering results in a purer, fresher expression of the vineyard.”



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Concentrated red currant, plum and raspberry flavors are finely articulated, with ample hot stone and cooking spice notes. Crunchy acidity on the finish features accents of dried thyme.

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 Wine Advocate: 93 Wine Spectator: 93 94 Points
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Name Meaning With the family (with kids’ help) 5 generations with Pinot Noir

Varietal composition Pinot Noir (100%)

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Appellation Fort Ross-Seaview

Vineyard singularity On the 2nd ridge off Pacific Ocean 1,100 feet of elevation Goldridge sedimentary soil

Typical harvest date October Picking Manual, small lugs, refer truck Sorting Cluster by cluster, berry per berry

Fermentation Through native yeast Punch downs Puncheons only Upbringing 14 months French oak from artisan coopers

Bottling Unfiltered

Cellaring time 10+ years

Serving Slightly below room temperature No decanting


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More black fruits, smoked earth, baking spices, and earthy, saddle leather notes emerge from the 2017 Pinot Noir En Famille, which comes from a warmer, south-facing vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview region. This ripe, powerful, full-bodied Pinot Noir has an incredible texture and a huge core of fruit, yet it stays balanced, pure, and elegant, with plenty of tannic structure. Give bottles a year or two.

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