2018 Holdredge Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - 90 points
Bucher Vineyard is situated a few miles to the southwest of Healdsburg on Westside Road, an extremely highly-regarded area for Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley AVA. There are a small handful of vineyards with names synonymous with some of the finest pinots ever to come from Sonoma County (including Rochioli, Bucher, and Flax). Bucher is toward the north end of the appellation, so it is slightly warmer, although the hills to the west (the beginning of the coastal range) offer afternoon shade. There is little water, and while the story of the wines is told by the soils, the careful farming of John and Diane Bucher shows in the fruit.
When I visit Bucher, there is always a sense of serenity around our main block (Peartree); it’s not an unusual feeling in a vineyard, but the Bucher Vineyard has always spoken to me this way. That manifests itself in the wine, which for me, almost always has a sense of serenity about it.
Bucher Vineyard has shown itself in a lot of ways over the years, from feather-light in 2006 to an unabashedly lean and racy 2008, to a 2014 that came at big and hearty food like a young heavyweight boxer: fearless and showing unbridled power. That same unabashed grape goodness came through in 2018, except, the 2018 isn’t as dark and brooding as the 2014 was. To be sure, the 18 has plenty of black cherries and blackberries, but it also has red berries, that little telltale note of rose petal (maybe more “dried rose petal”), and to that end, a bit of cut black tea. It’s incredibly rich and full in the palate and has some super fine tannins that hold it up nicely.
The fermentation of this wine had a mind of its own- it refused to start for almost 11 days, and then finished in a fury once it started. Pretty much the slowest start and fastest finish I’d ever seen in a Pinot. Basically, it was nature reminding me again that she’s running the show. This one is really ready for near term enjoyment, and seems to play well with all the seasonal foods of winter, although I’ll say I prepared a lamb stew last weekend that was one of the best pairings I’ve ever had with a Bucher wine. Only 124 cases made. 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast.