Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2015 Windvane Pinot Noir: A Carneros Charmer

Straddling the Sonoma and Napa wine regions, the Carneros AVA is well known as a cooler climate, an excellent area for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I've long enjoyed Pinot Noirs from the Carneros region, some of my favorite Pinots of California. Thus, I was curious when I learned of a new brand from this area, Windvane, producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Windvane, part of Freixenet USA, is largely the creation of winemaker Steven Urberg, who is also the winemaker for Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (also located in the Carneros AVA). Urberg's vision for Windvane was inspired by his interest in the windiest sections of the vineyards, believing that wind greatly influenced the character of the grapes. He believes that "...the stress from intense gusts coupled with the steepest, rockiest and thinnest soils, allow for slower ripening, intense flavor development and high levels of acidity in the grapes."

I received a media sample of the 2015 Windvane Carneros Pinot Noir ($45), which is produced from 100% estate Pinot Noir from a variety of the windiest blocks in the westernmost section of their 335-acre estate. The 2015 vintage was challenging due to the weather conditions, leading to the harvest of only a small crop, but the grapes possessed "excellent concentration and intense character." Thus, only 1,300 cases of this wine were produced. The Pinot Noir was harvested at night to preserve their freshness an only free run juice was used for the wine. The wine was then aged for about nine months in French oak (46% new).

I opened the bottle to accompany a dinner of Chinese sausages (bought from J. Pace & Son in Saugus.) With a 14.5% ABV, the wine possesses a medium red color and an enticing aroma of red fruit with mild, underlying spice notes. On the palate, the complex wine presented delicious and intense flavors of red cherry and blackberry, enhanced by mild spice notes and plenty of acidity. Medium-bodied, the finish was fairly lengthy and satisfying, ending with a silky crispness. The acidity of the wine helped to balance the sweetness of the sausages, and its flavors worked well with the spices and flavors of the sausage.  

This Pinot Noir would have been excellent on its own too, though it would be a great accompaniment with many different dishes. It is an impressive wine, worth the splurge, and earns my recommendation.

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