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

March 2019 Club Letter

I’ve been looking forward to this release for a good while. It includes a first-ever Pinot blended from multiple vineyards in the “true” Sonoma Coast, and the “Montepulciano” from our “Oscuro” brand. They are the last of our wines from 2016. It also includes our first two Pinots from the 2017 vintage, two wines that couldn’t be more different. I’m really excited about these wines- these last wines from 2016 have totally been worth waiting for, and the 2017s are already revealing the elegant character of the vintage. We already find ourselves ignoring our own mantra of being patient and are opening all of these- and while the vintages are decidedly different, Nature has shaped them both to offer a lot of pleasure.

Holdredge 2016 “Upper Elevations” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 80 cases made. $55/btl (Club Price: $46.75)

We’ve been keeping a secret from you. I know, I know, transparency is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, but it’s also true that a little mystery, and the occasional surprise, keeps things fresh.... I’ve been dying to share the secret, but the time just wasn’t right- until now! As we raised the 2016 vintage wines (“elevage”), I kept thinking about how exciting it is to be able to work with multiple sites up in the mountains of the “true” Sonoma Coast. As I’d taste through the barrels, I’d ruminate about their differences despite that common thread. And ultimately, I began exploring a possible blend of the three. I finally came up with a blend I thought worth bottling as a separate wine, and when I poured it for Carri, she loved it. This is that wine.

It is a blend of the Martinelli “Three Sisters Vineyard” (53%), The True” (38%), “and “Rolling Thunder” (9%). Our blending trials began with almost 20% Rolling Thunder, but as we kept working on it, the adage “less is more” came into play, and we thought it hit a great spot at 9% from Rolling thunder as it seemed more high-toned from increased amounts of the other vineyards. It has substantial palate weight, a flavor profile that includes black licorice, red licorice, macerated strawberries, and very ripe red raspberries. It is both pretty and powerful, but still has a sense of restraint. We’ve had it with a wide range of foods, but grilled salmon with a touch of beurre blanc has been the superstar. Drink now until 2026.

Holdredge 2017 “Three Sisters Vineyard” Fort Ross/Seaview Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 100 cases made. $70/btl (Club Price: $59.50)

This is our second release from this very special vineyard. Situated some 1250 feet above sea level in the Fort Ross Seaview sub-appellation of the Sonoma Coast, it’s a long, twisting drive to get out there to taste grapes, but the spirit of the place makes it completely worthwhile. The area has a very distinct microclimate; the vineyard seemed nonplussed by the early heat that had accelerated ripeness in other parts of the County. Each time I went out, I kept thinking “these have a long way to go”, but then one day, it was as if it suddenly made up its mind, and decided it was time.

The ferment (wild yeast as always) kicked off more quickly than usual (only four days), and was marked by higher temperatures; it crested at 92 degrees, and as a result, fermented rather rapidly for us (about 11 days). So, instead of pressing it off and finishing in barrel, I made the decision to prolong the skin contact

to extract a little more skin tannin. I blanketed the fermenters with argon, and let it rest. Emblematic of this vineyard, it has a red fruit flavor profile, and as has been our experience, is quite light in color. Those that would judge the depth and complexity of a Pinot by simply looking at the color would be seriously mistaken to do so with this wine. Superfine tannins (from the extended skin contact) frame the palate, and the weight belies the color. But I think it expresses the emotion of the vineyard in a most extraordinary way- there is a lifted, almost ethereal quality to it, like those the red fruit notes are fluffy clouds- light red pillows if you will, which, for a vineyard sitting at a 1250-foot elevation that is often blanketed in the clouds, is perhaps as true to its origin as a wine can be. Drink now to 2028.

Holdredge 2017 “Petits Cadeaux” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 130 cases made. $50/btl (Club Price: $42.50)

This was our first pick of 2017, literally in the midst of an oppressive heat wave that, as I saw it, was not going to help the tiny berries that make this wine. Oddly, despite the oppressive heat, the grapes kept their shape and didn’t shrivel, but the juice content was exceedingly low- as though they had simply given away moisture without changing shape. Obviously, we love a big ratio of skin to juice, and this played to that preference. It leads to a more extracted wine with a bigger structure. But I’ll also say the first rounds of punch-downs during the cold soak were like trying to push through concrete!

Our first showing of the wine was at barrel weekends last March, and it was an absolute smash hit. It is big, round, and weighty, and carries a huge note of blackberries, and Burbank plum skin. In terms of the palate, it carries a creaminess and elegance- but isn’t ponderous. For now, we are decanting it for a couple of hours (you can just open and drink it, but the nose really opens up, and the wines gains considerable weight with decanting). It’s fabulous on its own, but we paired it with Pinot braised short ribs and a reduction sauce, and it was out of this world. Drink now to 2025

Oscuro 2016 Dry Creek Valley “Montepulciano” - New Release!
Only 56 cases made. $42/btl (Club Price: $35.70) This grape is indigenous to south-central Italy, and while it became known for making “carafe wines”, it has experienced a renaissance as its noble pedigree is being respected by a new generation of winemakers. Our version comes from the hills above Dry Creek Valley, is grown on volcanic soils (as any Italian grape should be), and is nothing like our Pinots.

Sit down and pour a glass, but you’d better buckle your seatbelt! This is a massive, black fruit-driven wine (think the blackest blackberries on the planet). Where past vintages have shown more tannins, this is just round, voluptuous and silky across the palate. It is not for someone who wants “delicate” wines! If you enjoy Zinfandel, you’ll likely love this grape. We had it with a mushroom/Bechamel lasagna and thought it was a great match, but then we had it with 72-hour sous vide beef brisket and it rocked our world. Drink now. Or tomorrow. It’s just that fun.


John & Carri Holdredge


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