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With its maritime influence, California's Monterey region has an extended growing season that yields wines with full flavor development and great acid balance. Mandolin Pinot Noir is a rich wine that features bright cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of spice, leather and cedar.
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were sourced from vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, where high winds, dry days, and bay fogs create a cool, but very long, growing season. These growing conditions are ideal for cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, and lead to full, forward fruit flavors and ideal acidity. Grapes were harvested at an ideal balance of sugar and acid, and the wine was fermented in small open-top tanks. The wine completed malo-lactic fermentation in French oak barrels, where it aged for 8 months prior to bottling. TA .67 pH 3.50 Residual Sugar 0.052g/100ml
The Mandolin Estate
Mandolin is a collaboration between veteran winemaker Philip Zorn and longtime wine executive Brent Shortridge. Bringing together their previously established relationships with winegrowers in California's Monterey County, Zorn and Shortridge have created wines that stand out for their balance, finesse and distinct varietal character, as well as their sense of place. Mandolin wines are internationally recognized as outstanding values.
A mandolin is a member of the lute family; similar to a guitar, it is plucked or strummed.
The Mandolin Vineyard
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were sourced from vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, where high winds, dry days, and bay fogs create a cool, but very long, growing season. These growing conditions are ideal for cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, and lead to full, forward fruit flavors and ideal acidity. Grapes were harvested at an ideal balance of sugar and acid, and the wine was fermented in small open-top tanks. The wine completed malo-lactic fermentation in French oak barrels, where it aged for 11 months prior to bottling.
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Cuvee Oumuamua is made from 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 13% Syrah.
As our story unfolds, we learn that with the 2018 vintage, there has been a fundamental change in the style of Le Cigare Volant. Not that there was anything at all “wrong” with the thirty-four vintages preceding the current one, mind you. For a number of reasons, mostly, alas, drearily fiscal/economical, the older style of Cigare has unfortunately proven to be a not particularly sustainable proposition at least from a financial perspective. The “new” Cigare, with a re-adjustment of the encépagement, by which we have dropped Mourvèdre from the mix and elevated the percentage of the (greatly underappreciated) and quite brilliant variety, Cinsault, creates a style of wine far more approachable and seductive in its youth.
We call this cuvée, “Oumuamua,” (or “scout” in Hawaiian), so named in light of the recent mysterious cigar-shaped object/visitor to our solar system, initially imagined to be some sort of asteroid, but believed by none other than the chairman of the Astronomy Dept. at Harvard University to possibly be a sort of probe, perhaps a solar-powered light-sail, sent on a kind of reconnaissance mission to check us out. (Ok, this last part is a bit of interpolation.) Anyhoo, it has been agreed that this was a very, very strange object that recently came to visit. And it appears that it may have arrived in the very nick of time, to bring a sort of much-needed revitalization to our planet, and by metaphoric extension, to the Cigare brand itself.
The color is a deep, vivid violet-red, owing in part to the lower pH of the wine. On the nose, the wine has a haunting kirsch nose (I suspect that’s the Cinsault), along with associated small red fruit (red and black currant) and perhaps a suggestion of blackberry. My colleague, Nicole Walsh and I toil away at the Cigare blend every year, and while the blend will change (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘17 certainly embodies that form. It goes something like this: Juiciness, fruit (but not confected or overripe), brightness, exuberance, joy, and not least, a sense of savoriness. I realize I’m not speaking orthodox wine parlance. We look above all for balance and for liveliness, for vinous qi. This wine is still incredibly young and just wants to jump out of its shoes.
INEYARD | PRODUCTION NOTES
The Alta Loma Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County, was planted years back to one of the earlier selections of Tablas Creek Grenache clones, typically not a great selection for imparting real backbone or structure to the wine, but capable of making a wine that is enormously pretty and fragrant; in cool years, the fragrance of cassis or black currant is almost overpowering; most surprisingly, the Grenache in cool years from this vineyard is profoundly black in color. The Cinsault was sourced from the Loma del Rio Vineyard, a vineyard, under a previous nom de guerre (San Bernabe), we know quite well. This was the first year of production for the Cinsault and it was thinned multiple times both for enhanced concentration and evenness of ripening. The cooler climate gives the Cinsault a wonderful articulation of flavor, but what is most noteworthy is the fact that we were able to coferment the Cinsault with Syrah from the equally cool Mesa Verde Vyd. in the Santa Ynez Valley. Something magical happens when Syrah and Cinsault marry; the healthy tannin titer from the Syrah seems to give more structure to the Cinsault, helps to stabilize the color, and in general, insures that the blend will not evanesce tout de suite into the aetherial plane. The spicy, licorice component from the Syrah is a perfect foil to the Griotte cherry derived from the Cinsault.
Appellation: Monterey County
Vineyards: 48% Alta Loma, 35% Loma Del Rio, 6% Mesa Verde, 6% Zayante, 4% Rancho Solo 1% Lieff
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
TA: 6.1 g/L
Production: 11,500 cases
Cellaring: Drinkable upon release (6/19) with ageability of 7-10 years
Dark cherry color. Complex and intense aromas of juicy red and black fruit combined with vanilla and toffee. Fresh, ample and round in the mouth, well balanced and harmonious with fruit flavors and ripe tannins.
Dark ruby color. Aromas of cherry, currant, vanilla bean and hint of tar. Full-bodied, with flavors of cherries, cocoa powder and oak. A touch of sweetness on entry with a little bit of air with soft tannins that are starting to integrate well.
The latest step in the project is Vinsacro (formerly Valsacro) Dioro. The earlier Valsacros were made from a field selection of the older vineyards. Now, thanks to the new facility Amador has been able to build an upmarket version of Vinsacro (formerly Valsacro) with a four-stage selection process that includes an initial field selection of the fruit followed by a second table selection as the grapes come into the winery. After fermentation wine from selected tanks is transferred to new French oak barrels for 12-14 months of barrel age. Finally, the best barrels are set aside for Dioro and the remainder used to "upgrade" the normal Vinsacro.
Vinsacro Dioro is a blend of grapes from 100+ year old "vidau" vineyards where many varieties were planted together in the same plot.
Today the grapes are harvested and vinified separately. The final blend depends on the vintage but typically it's Tempranillo (50%), Garnacha (20%) and remaining 30% is a mix of mainly Graciano (10%) & Mazuelo (10%) with a little of Monastrell (5%) & Bobal (5%).
"The top of the range is the 2015 Vinsacro Dioro, a wine that is only produced in excellent vintages. It's a blend of 40% Vidau (the old field blend) plus 45% Tempranillo and 15% Mazuelo, from a slope in the south of the Monte Yerga called Cuesta la Reina, from a big, 120-hectare plot that has been with the Escudero family for generations. It fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel with a long maceration. It matured in new French (70%) and American oak barrels for 18 months. It's still very young and a little shy, with a reticent nose where the lactic and spicy aromas are intermixed with earthy and dark fruit aromas. The palate is full-bodied but perfectly balanced, compact, powerful and serious, with abundant tannins, extract and clout. This should develop nicely in bottle, given its stuffing and balance. An excellent, modern version of a classical Rioja. 20,000 bottles were filled in June 2017. - Luis Gutierrez"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #235, February 2018), 92 pts
"(sourced from a 100+ year old plot of mixed varieties; aged in new and used French oak barrels for 14 months) Deep, bright-rimmed ruby. Ripe black and blue fruits on the expansive, spice- and smoke-accented nose, along with suggestions of vanilla, candied flowers and cola. The oak qualities recede quickly on the palate, which displays sappy, deeply concentrated boysenberry, black raspberry and spicecake flavors that show a suave blend of richness and energy. Supple tannins build steadily on the penetrating finish, which leaves cherry-cola and baking spice notes behind. - Josh Raynolds"
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (February 2019), 93 pts
"I loved the 2015 Vinsacro Dioro Rioja, and this beauty is 50% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache, 10% each of Mazuelo and Graciano, and the balance Mourvèdre and Bobal, all of which spent 12-14 months in French oak. It boasts a deep ruby/purple color as well as smoking good notes of black currants, dried herbs, licorice, and background oak. Medium to full-bodied, seamless, and layered on the palate, with terrific fruit and impeccable balance, I suspect it will shine for over a decade."
- Jeb Dunnuck (March 2019), 93 pts
Our 2015 Flanagan Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast continued the string of “winemaker vintages” that started with the 2012 vintage. For the third year in a row, there were no damaging weather events and fruit condition was excellent. We continue to do relatively short fermentations with some whole cluster additions. The wine was aged in Francois Freres and Rousseau barrels for 12 months.
This wine is the first that includes fruit from our two new vineyard designate sites. Both Sunchase and Sonoma Stage are well regarded, cool climate Sonoma Coast vineyards and in 2014 both produced abundant, ripe, clean fruit. The resulting wine is reflective of the cooler climate sites and shows more restraint and more elegance than the 2013 Pinot Noir. The fruits are focused on black cherry and nearly ripe black plum (sweet, but crisp and not flabby). We used a gentler touch on the oak to allow the great vineyard sites and the beautiful vintage to shine through.
Fullerton Bennett Vineyard Pinot Noir (magnum) is made from 100% Pinot Noir - 8 years old
18 months in 5% new French Oak and 95% neutral French Oak
Bennett Vineyard is grown in sedimentary Bellpine soil. A new and exciting site in 2015, this hidden jewel of a vineyard produced a graceful Pinot Noir and it is bottled exclusively in 1.5L and 3L magnums. The quality and value of this wine combine with the large format bottles to create an ideal wine for the upcoming fall and winter holiday seasons. Whether shared at your table or gifted to family or friends, this unique bottling is sure to please.
Aromas of cherry and raspberry fold into layers of rhubarb, clove, and pipe tobacco. The lengthy, mineral-driven palate showcases the captivating elegance of Pinot Noir.
Upon arrival, the grapes were immediately de-stemmed into open-top fermenters. Following a seven-day cold soak, the wine started fermenting slowly at a cool temperature. To manage extraction, we utilized one to two punch-downs and one pump-over per day, with two rack- and-returns at the beginning and middle of fermentation. Following two days of seling, the wine was racked to barrel and aged for 18 months in 5% new French oak and 6 months in tank prior to being bottled.
Fullerton Five Faces Pinot Noir 100% Pinot Noir - 7-40 years old
FIVE FACES is an acronym for the five members of the Fullerton family - Filip, Alex, Caroline, Eric and Susanne.
A blend from Fullerton's best vineyard sources, Five FACES Pinot Noir always showcases the breadth of the terroir in the Willamette Valley with the inclusion of both volcanic, basalt-based soils and sedimentary, sandstone-based soils. The fruit hails from geographically diverse sites within the valley, each with their own unique micro-climates.
Lovely ruby with aromas of cherry, strawberry, cinnamon, bramble, and brooding humus. Fresh on the palate with nice persistence leading into the soft, noteworthy tannins. Drink now or hold for up to 5 years.
In order to build a complex and layered Willamette Valley blend, we used open-top, closed-top, and barrel fermentation. For the open-top tanks, we favored punch-downs, whereas the closed-top tanks received pump-overs exclusively. The rotator barrels spun on a schedule yielding a gentle extraction. All methods also received a minimum of two rack-and-returns at precise times during the fermentation process. Nearly all lots were cold-soaked for up to 10 days, and ambient yeasts carried out the fermentation. In total, we utilized 15% whole clusters. The wine was aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak barrels.
"The 2015 'Five Faces' Pinot Noir shows deep profile with aromatics leading to wild mushroom, black cherry and wild blackberry. The palate displays a medium weight with flavors of orange zest, black truffle, wild blackberry cobbler and a hint of cola. This is delicious and shows excellent balance. (Best 2017-2027) - July, 2017 (OB)"
- International Wine Report (July 2017), 91 pts
Varietal 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation American Sparkling Wine 60% Virginia (Oxeye Vineyards), 40 % New York Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake
Winemaking Notes The grapes were handpicked in small baskets early September 2015 and were gently pressed as whole clusters. After a settling of 24 hours, the juice was inoculated with selected Champagne yeast and fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperature. Once the fermentation was over, the wine aged in tanks on its fine lees for 4 months. The blend was then put together and cold-stabilized prior to bottling. The bottling occurred in the spring of 2016 when the cellar temperature was conducive to a second fermentation in the bottle. The now sparkling wine was aged on the yeast for over 24 months. At disgorging, a small amount of dosage liquor is added in order to balance the natural acidity.
Tasting Notes Pale pink in color, this sparkling is medium bodied with subtle strawberry aromas and flavors. Well balanced with texture, structure and a lovely long finish.
Kershaw Smugglers Boot Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir made from French clones PN667, PN115 and PN113.
The name derives from the time of trade embargoes in South Africa when growers & winemakers smuggled grapevine material into the country by hiding the cuttings in Wellington boots. The Smuggler’s Boot range celebrates that ingenuity.
Attractive strawberry, savory and star anise spice linger on the nose. Juicy and sumptuous on the mid palate with breadth of flavor offset by a nimbleness of fresh acidity, friable tannins and sinuous mouthfeel, this Pinot unwraps to earthy, fennel, chocolate and a hint of incense to a long supple finish.
Handpicked grapes were first bunch sorted on a conveyor before the stems were removed and the destemmed berries sorted to remove jacks and substandard berries. After a 3-day maceration in 500kg open-topped fermenters, the uncrushed grapes began a spontaneous fermentation. A gentle pigeage program was charted and the grapes remained on skins for 10-16 days.
The free-run wine was racked to a combination of 50% French oak barrels (10% new) and 50% breathable plastic eggs with the remaining pomace basket-pressed. Malolactic then proceeded followed by a light sulphuring after which the wine was racked off Malolactic lees and returned to cleaned barrels for an 11-month maturation. No finings, simply racked and light filtration prior to bottling.
Richard Kershaw’s personal suggestions for dishes include charcuterie, its salt and fat being complemented by the delicate spicy notes and fruit; Pork loin with honey, pepper, and lemon-zest glaze; Carpaccio; duck cassoulet; ovenroasted monkfish with garlic mashed potatoes; seared tuna; wild mushroom risotto; a simple beet salad with some hazelnuts and ricotta cheese; a slice of Brie or Gorgonzola dolce.
Siegel Pinot Noir Reserve is made with 100% Pinot Noir
Viña Siegel is a family operated winery with a well-established tradition and long history. For generations we have been dedicated to the art of crafting wines with strong identities.
Our Special Reserve wines represent the union of tradition and innovation in two generations. The grapes are sourced through careful selection of our best vineyards. Their ripe and round tannins clearly express the terroir of Colchagua. Siegel Special Reserve Pinot Noir is Casablanca Valley.
This Pinot Noir is characterized by its deep cherry red color with notes of ruby red and aromas of roses and fresh fruit such as strawberry and cherry.
12 months in French oak barrels.
Philippe Milan Pommard AOC is 100% Pinot Noir
This wine has been aged in Oak (25% new Oak)
This is a little more structured and the style goes more toward the "vin de garde", or wines meant to age. This wine needs some food, or sometime in the decanter right now. It is well structured and reminds me of a Volnay. As a matter of fact, the parcel is located right next to Volnay. The finish is long and still quite juicy with chewy tannins lingering.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon is always the last to ripen on the Alegria vineyard in the foothills of the Andes. And this year the Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyed high heat in January, followed by a cooler than usual countdown to harvest during February and March. The consequence was a crop of perfect clusters, exemplary concentration, enhanced flavors, and optimal, natural acidity. The result is a Cabernet Sauvignon of rare finesse.
SonVida Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 boasts classic varietal notes, blackcurrant, ripe red cherry, cassis. But what distinguishes this vintage is the excellent body and structure, the soft, round tannins and minerality so characteristic of the award-winning Altamira district, and the bright balance of its finish.
Once again, we selected whole clusters by hand as we harvested relatively late, in the third week of April, with low yields of 75 hl/ha. There was then a double selection: first, by bunches, then grape by grape. Total maceration took 20 days, starting with cold soaking for four days, alcoholic fermentation 12 days, then four days additional. The Syrah came from our vineyard – as always, SonVida represents the single vineyard wine.
Yes, this is a Cabernet Sauvignon to be enjoyed with a quality steak, or cut of beef. But also it can be enjoyed on its own, its smooth balance and finesse lending ideally to a relaxed evening in good company. It will age well, as have earlier SonVida Cabernets, adding complexity and richness.
"The harmonious and classical 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon might not be a fashionable wine, but it feels very honest, somehow old style and traditional, balanced, smooth, focused and clean. It has some 10% Syrah in the blend. It has bright flavors, young and fruit-driven, still very young and primary. Seeing how the 2015 Malbec is aging, I wouldn't be worried to lay the bottles for another couple of years; this Cab has the stuffing and balance. It has moderate alcohol and good freshness and comes through as balanced and gentle. 6,000 bottles produced. - Luis Gutiérrez"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #245, October 2019), 91 pts