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2017 Holdredge Steiner-Drystack Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir
Sonoma Mountain is an iconic feature of Sonoma County’s topography; there are a surprising number of well-regarded vineyards nestled about the mountain, among them a few gems. The Mountain has a very different voice than the Russian River or the Sonoma Coast, and I wanted to make a wine from there since I started making wine. This wine tells a story from rich soils at the top of the mountain to the rock-strewn lower slopes.
Steiner Vineyard sits at 1200 foot in elevation on the east side of the mountaintop, situated in highly prized “Goldridge” soils. We take Pommard clone, Swan clone and clone 667, and first began working with it in 2012, which led to a wine some may recall: Indigo Dreams, which we did for several years. It was a powerful and potent wine. As much as I liked the wine, I always wondered what it would be like if I could add another dimension to it.
That opportunity came my way with the 2016 vintage- when I finally got my hands on a vineyard along the lower slopes of the mountain (technically a “Bennett Valley” address) known as “Dry Stack”. Discussion of soil here always gives way to a discussion of the huge amount of fractured rocks in the vineyard- it is the type of place that makes a winemaker’s pulse quicken. The term "dry stack" was used in the British Isles to describe walls made of rocks piled up without mortar to hold them in place, and indeed, this property has such walls surrounding it. I had tasted other wines from here over the years I had really liked- in part because all of them had a very tightly focused core. We take Calera, Swan and Pommard clones from here.
The wine is a blend of the best of both vineyards- the plushness of Steiner and the minerality of Dry Stack. We usually pick Dry Stack ahead of Steiner by a week to ten days; the wines are dramatically different from the get-go.
The 2017 differs from its predecessor in the sense that while it has a solid racy core of red fruit, it is far more perfumed (owing to more Steiner (87%) in the final blend).The wine is defined by lifted aromatics of red fruit, but it is shaped the minerality and acid of Dry Stack. Ironically, it is Dry Stack, at the base of the mountain which gives the tannins which give a nice bit of fine grip across the palate, which stand in nice contrast to the weight of the wine. In a way, the wine still has a sense of restraint- but the 2016 was the very last wine from that vintage to show us what it really had and I expect the same with this one. We’ve been decanting it for upwards of an hour before drinking, and its been a smash hit with all manner of grilled fish and vegetables this spring. I think this one will last a solid ten years of really great drinking, but definitely can be enjoyed in the very near term as well.