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2018 Holdredge "Strawberry Fields" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir -93 points
This is a wine we have only released three times in our 20-year history- the others being in 2008 and 2014. For years, we captured and saved the lees (the dead yeast cells) from the barrels when we rack (empty the barrels) for bottling. The lees always have a small amount of wine which, when put into a keg, becomes available as the lees settle out. We always keep that wine for ourselves- it has a texture and aromatics we both like a lot. In 2008, due to a late freeze that hammered one of our vineyard sources, we only got a tiny bit of fruit, and while I loved the aromatics as the fermentation went on, I really wasn’t too wild about the texture. I recalled someone once telling me about a very old practice to “fine” a wine with lees to soften it. So, late in the fermentation, I took the lees from the prior year and poured them into that tiny amount of fruit just to see what happened. As it turned out, the lees were an amazing and natural fining agent to make the wine’s texture unbelievably creamy.
I’ve done this ever since- if we have a wine that has the specific character (notably flavors and aromatics) which I think may take us there. Although it’s a composition I seek every year, it remains somewhat elusive, but 2018 hit it on all points. I gravitate to the aromas and flavors of macerated ripe strawberries (hence the name), while Carri loves the expansive mouthfeel. This can be enjoyed immediately (a very short splash decant really opens it up), and if I were to suggest an optimal pairing, spring Lamb with new potatoes and peas would be it, although a Risotto (using leek stock - not chicken broth) with peas and a touch of parm is equally yummy. Drink now- 2026. Only 75 cases made.