Wine Club – March 2020
And now.....the first wines from the 2018 vintage. It’s always emotional to release new wines- we started walking the vineyards for this harvest two years ago, we vinified the grapes a year and a half ago, we bottled the wines seven months ago, and we’ve been waiting to release them since then. There is a lot of reflection that one goes through after the wine is in bottle; you wonder if the things that made the wines special to you before they went into bottle will be there when you release them. In this instance, the answer is a resounding “yes!”. This shipment covers some cool places in Sonoma County, from the Russian River Valley, to Fort Ross - Seaview, to Freestone; to say we are excited about these wines is a bit of an understatement.
Holdredge 2018 “Pratt-Sexton” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- New Vineyard!! Only 78 cases made. $54/btl (Club Price: $45.90)
One of the neighborhoods I’ve always wanted to work with is around Freestone. It’s an extremely cold area- it’s a pretty straight shot from Bodega/the Pacific too. The maritime influence in that area (read: cold weather) defines the wines that come from there- with brilliant acidity (grapes don’t respire as much acid in cold as they do in heat). Jim Pratt is a grower who quietly oversees some very special places- among them this vineyard on Sexton Road (hence the name Pratt-Sexton). Sexton runs south from Bodega Highway (it’s the second road east of Freestone). The vineyard is planted on a hillside at around 950-foot elevation, and in that cold climate, Dijon clones express extremely well – this is all 777.
Perhaps most distinctive about this vineyard is a savory character that runs through the wines it produces; that element defines our 2018. There is an expression in French: “sous bois”, which translates to “forest floor”, but not so much in reference to dirt- but in reference to the varying mélange of plants and underbrush etc.in the forest. Tasting this, I think of walking across a forest floor on a bed of pine needles- your boots never touching the soil, your jeans brushing against wild herbs. But ultimately, it’s not about what I smell as I walk through that “forest” – it’s about what I feel. Deep conifer forests have a quiet and patient voice, and this wine has that personality. It’ll be fun to watch develop, especially over the next 6-8 years, but it’s really drinking well right now. 105 cases made. Drink now until 2027.
Holdredge 2018 “Three Sisters Vineyard” Fort Ross- Seaview Pinot Noir- New Release! Only 126 cases made. $70/btl (Club Price: $59.50)
At 1250 foot elevation, this is our highest elevation vineyard- planted in weathered slate soils that seem to demand patience. In 2018, we took a chance and delayed the picking of this vineyard- even through the late September rains. I felt if we got through them in good shape, these grapes might show something even more special. Given the potential for disaster, it was a leap of faith, that in retrospect I’m glad I made (although there was definitely some nail-biting along the way!).
This wine beguiles me – not just for how it straddles elegance and power, or the flavor components, or even for the acid - which allows the wine, with all that power, to still speak with precision. But what really draws me in is an aromatic note of crushed flowers. We’ve made plenty of Pinots with floral notes- but this isn’t the aromas of rose petals or violets- it’s completely different- it’s the smell of fresh crushed flowers and it's beautiful.
What’s fun about this is that even though it has the depth and structure to pair with rich foods with bold flavors (Rack of Lamb is always a smashing pairing for wines from this vineyard; which historically was a sheep ranch), it can work equally well with a lot of other foods. We had it (to write these notes) with a selection of cheeses with a little of our “backyard” lavender-orange blossom honey drizzled on a couple of them, and it was wonderful. This one is delicious now, a little decanting for the next few months won’t hurt, and I think if you are the patient sort, you’ll be able to enjoy these for a good while. If such things matter to you (as they do to me), Carri says it’s her favorite wine we’ve made from this vineyard. 120 cases made. Drink now to 2027.
Holdredge 2018 “Petits Cadeaux” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - New Release! Only 148 cases made. $54/btl (Club Price: $45.90)
We take multiple clones from the Martaella Vineyard and typically do two different picks a couple of weeks apart. Usually, the tiniest berry clones (90, 96, and Hanzell) compromise the biggest parts of this wine – around 80-90%. But all the fruit from there in 2018 (Pommard, Martini, and AS-8 clones) was ridiculously good, and we ended up with a blend that was only about 55% of the tiny berry clones; the other clones were just that good. It showed a lot of baby fat when it was young, but has continued to evolve into a nicely structured wine.
This vineyard has always spoken with a big voice, and the 2018 is no exception, but it has a personality that is both opulent and dignified. Walking this vineyard, I always sense its personality, which is it is somewhat apart from others on the Olivet Bench. Largely owing to topography and farming, it is the best part of that neighborhood. If you listen to the place, it's impossible not to feel that in its voice. I think that reflects in the way it presents itself, it is a big wine that somehow still has a deftness.
In terms of flavor profiles, the aromatics are very much like the 2014, but it has the mouthfeel and richness of the 2013. I tend to enjoy this wine a bit sooner than some of our others, but this one will continue to develop. 150 cases made. Drink now to 2025.
John & Carri Holdredge