Sonoma-Cutrer is an unabashed chardonnay shop, but its latest pinot noir, from its Russian River Valley-based Vine Hill Vineyard, is a wine to seek out. Some details:
Sonoma-Cutrer’s Vine Hill Vineyard provided the fruit for this release with grapes specifically selected from the highest elevation, hillside blocks. With more than a 400-ft. elevation change, each ridge, slope, and valley in the vineyard contributes unique characteristics to the grapes. Combined with a variety of soils, clones and rootstocks that limit excessive vine growth, the vineyard provided a beautiful variety of elegant and balanced fruit.
Three specific winemaking techniques were used to craft this wine. First, a technique called submerged cap was used, which keeps the grape skins held beneath the surface of the fermented wine. Second, grapes were cold soaked and fermented in French oak barrels and third, traditional fermented in small, open top, stainless fermenters. After fermentation, each of the individual components were barrel aged in 100% French oak barrels made from wood sourced solely from the Gauthier family mill. After aging for 16 months, the final blend was assembled and bottled. The wine was then allowed to rest and evolve for an additional six months in the bottle prior to release.
The wine is rich and sultry, really beautiful actually with notes of plums, blackberry, cola, and spicy barbecue sauce on the nose. The palate folds in hints of licorice, grilled meats, allspice, and cloves, with a lingering oak component that gives the wine some tannic grip. The wine gets a bit earthy as it lingers in the glass, but that works well as a foil to its expressive core. Snap this one up.
A / $49 / sonomacutrer.com