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December 2019 Club Letter

Vineyard Blog

John and Carri Holdredge
July 21, 2020 | John and Carri Holdredge

December 2019 Club Letter

Wine Club – December 2019

These wines are the last to be released from the 2017 vintage- and the 16 months in the bottle have had a profound impact on them. I’ve been surprised by how much these have evolved, even just since August. All of these are ready to drink now- and will handle whatever holiday foods you might pair with them. We wish you a great holiday season, filled with the love of family and friends!

Holdredge 2017 “The True” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- Only 101 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) The early season heat that hammered Sonoma County in late August was least influential in the Annapolis area, where this wine is grown. The closest proximity to the ocean of all the sites we work within the “true” Sonoma Coast allowed what marine influence there was to keep things moderate. The grapes had barely begun veraison at that time, so they were able to shrug off the heat, and the flavors and sugars developed after the heat, and at a rather moderate pace.

In the glass, it is initially the most red-fruit and floral driven wine from this vineyard that nature has given us for a few years. But as it opens in the glass, deeper-toned aromatics emerge. While it initially seems a medium-bodied wine, with some time in the glass, a ton of richness emerges. It’s really quite graceful, and even some very fine tannins coat the palate (the result of a LOT of hand punch-downs!) Drink now, although we are still decanting it- a little air makes for a world of happiness. It should continue to develop over the next 7-8 years. 94 points- Jeb Dunnuck

Holdredge 2017 “Saralee’s Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - Only 95 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) If you know our story, you know our journey into Pinot began at Saralee’s Vineyard in 2001. We lived just down the road, we knew and loved Saralee, and our son learned to fish in her ponds when he was almost 4- so the place carries some real meaning, besides growing delicious grapes. Saralee passed in 2014, but Jackson Family Wines (La Crema) now own the vineyard and are kind enough to sell us grapes.

When we finally opened our first bottle of this vintage, the first entry in my tasting notes says it all: “Classic SL”. It has the lifted red fruit, round mid-palate, and nice palate weight we always get from there- and to me, it is quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. While this is always a wine that is delicious when young, it always develops a ton of nuance in the bottle. As we tasted the bottle (Ok, “drank”), I kept thinking about past vintages- and the 2017 is very reminiscent of the 2005, which was (and is) one of my favorite wines from that vineyard. I expect it to offer great drinking pleasure to 2028. I think it really captures the voice of this place, which has, over the years, become a good friend of mine.

Holdredge 2017 “Rolling Thunder” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 123 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50) The two strains of Pinot we take from this vineyard (Pommard and 828), situated on a mountain top outside Occidental, are completely different, from bud break to cluster morphology, to the flavor profile. We usually pick them from 8-10 days apart, and vinify them separately, and barrel and keep them separate until blending. The 828 (picked first) was excellent, but the Pommard just seemed to have something very special. As I kept tasting the Pommard in barrel, I kept asking myself, “can this really be this good?” In a word, yes. As good as the 828 was, and it was really good, the more Pommard we worked into the blend, the more we liked the wine. The 2017 is 93% Pommard clone (the most we’ve ever used).

True to its name and place, this is a full-bodied wine that is all about power on the one hand but without sacrificing a sense of elegance. The aromatics cover a broad spectrum, from candied dark cherries and black tea to violets and dried orange rind notes. There is a purity about it- with tremendous focus, a concentrated mid-palate, and some ultra-fine tannins. Though full-bodied, it is really quite complete- a balanced wine that one person said: “just glides over the palate”. Indeed. Drink now until 2026. 93 Points-Jeb Dunnuck

Holdredge 2017 “Upper Elevations” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - New Release!
Only 101 cases made. $60/btl (Club Price: $51) This is our blend from three of the “true” Sonoma Coast vineyards we work with: Martinelli “Three Sisters” Vineyard (Fort Ross Seaview- 2nd ridge in from the Pacific, Josephine Soils at elevation 1260); the Campbell Ranch (Annapolis- 2nd ridge in from the Pacific, Goldridge soils at elevation 750); and the “Riddle Ranch” (Occidental area, 3rd Ridge in from the Pacific, Goldridge soils at elevation 950).Each of these places has a distinctive character- Martinelli for its notes of lifted red fruit and silky palate; Campbell (the True), which straddles power and elegance; and Riddle Ranch (“Rolling Thunder”), a consistent testament to power. The final blend is 38% “Three Sisters”, 29% “The True, and 33% “Rolling Thunder” (the 2016 was only 9% Rolling Thunder).

When we tasted it in late October, Carri’s first comment was “wow, that just absolutely jumps out of the glass!”, and it really does. The aromatics are a wonderful mix of black cherries, red licorice, and very ripe strawberries. The mouthfeel is rich and expansive, and to call it “silky” only captures part of its appeal. Although at any given moment I might identify aspects from one of the wines in the blend, moments later I might identify an aspect of a different wine. It continues to evolve in the glass and is simply delicious right now. Drink now until 2027.


John & Carri Holdredge


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