MacRostie Pinot Noir 2005By Marisa D'Vari | August 8th, 2008 | Category: Wine reviews | 1 Comment »
Pinot Noir? Yawn. Been there. Done that. Sure, this finicky grape had more than its fifteen minutes of fame in the film Sideways, where the film’s characters got teary-eyed just thinking about this thin-skinned black grape varietal.
Few people, however, can know this grape completely. Like a beautiful and exotic woman, the grape retains its mystery and also takes on many different guises and moods. If you like red wine, such as Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s very possible you did not respond to Pinot Noir at first. The flavors might have struck you as being too light and delicate. Yet as you taste more Pinot Noir from different regions of the world, you will be surprised to realize Pinot Noir can take on so many textures, aromas, and levels of acidity and tannin. Among Pinot lovers (sometimes called Pinotphiles) arguments often break out about the grape, with some swearing by Oregon, and others its traditional home of Burgundy, France.
Today, I’d like to talk about Pinot Noirs from the Sonoma Coast in California. Right now I am tasting a MacRostie Pinot Noir from their Wildcat Mountain vineyard and it is surprisingly delicious, with gorgeous concentrated red and black berries on the palate, and a long, strong finish of deeply colored wild fruit with the kind of assertive tannins that can stand up to a juicy, rare Porterhouse steak and at the same time, complement grilled Ahi tuna or Alaskan King salmon.
Wildcat Mountain Vineyard is located on the volcanic highlands of the Sonoma Coast appellation with elevations ranging from 500 to 700 feet overlooking San Pablo Bay, typically covered in fog brought through the mountains by a wind so powerful many of the vines have a windswept look about them. The soil is red, pebbly clay loam and consists of volcanic basalt, and discerning palates will be able to taste this mineral quality in the wine. Climate? Cool and rather breezy. As you can imagine, under these conditions vines must struggle to survive. In the wine world, a struggling vine produces the most concentrated fruit.
The 2005 growing season extended to a late harvest. As typical at Wildcat, yields were low, about two tons per acre, resulting in the intense concentrated flavor described above. The grapes were hand harvested in two days, gently destemmed into open-top fermenters, and the cap (the “crust” of skins and pulp that form on the top of the juice) was managed with a combination of punchdowns and pumpovers to maximize positive extraction. The wine was then aged for ten months in French oak barrels (30% new) and bottled on August 17, 2006.
If you usually go to Oregon or Burgundy, France for your Pinot, I encourage you to try this wine. Whether it is the fog-shrouded mountain location, the Pommard and Dijon 667 clonal selections, or winemaker MacRostie’s magic touch, this wine is truly spectacular. And if you have found yourself shying away from Pinot Noir, thinking it a delicate wine, you will be impressed by the assertive fruit, tannins, and powerful structure in this wine.
And hey, you never know. One day you may find yourself at a party, like the Miles character in Sideways, telling fellow guests about your passion for Sonoma Coast Pinot.