2018 Holdredge Rolling Thunder Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -95 points
This vineyard sits atop the third ridge in from the Pacific just outside of Occidental. The soils are the “Goldridge” series, always a favorite among Pinot producers. This sits toward the north-south midway of the “true” Sonoma Coast appellation- and because of the altitude (some 950 feet), it generally sits above the heaviest fog, but still gains some cooling benefit of the fog, as well as cool air which comes up through Coleman Valley. So, it is a site that offers full sun but moderate temperatures- which allows us to hang the fruit longer. This is critical, as this vineyard presents higher levels of tannins, which, when fully ripe, contribute to the seamless and smooth structure of a bigger wine. (A lot of people think tannins are gritty, and if they aren’t ripe, they are quite gritty. But ripe tannins are silky and enhance the mouthfeel of the wine). So, that extended hang time doesn't simply facilitate flavor development, it also allows us to ripen tannins, which make for a more complete wine.
We take two blocks from this vineyard- one planted to Pommard clone and one to AS2 (828), generally picked 7-10 days apart (AS2 first), and kept separate until bottling. The final blend is usually slightly more Pommard. The vineyard is meticulously farmed by our friend Jim Riddle, and to say he is “obsessive” about quality is an understatement. We were the first winery to make a wine from this vineyard (in 2009), and love it for how it consistently conveys the impact of mountain-grown fruit and makes a delicious, and occasionally dramatic, wine.
We take two clones [strains] of Pinot from this vineyard: AS2 and Pommard. I’ve noticed this interesting trend in the winery; generally, the harvest interns seem to prefer the Pommard clone- which has been the consensus favorite for a number of years now. It certainly is more consistently dramatic and carries a sense of self-sufficiency. Over the years, we’ve adjusted the various amounts of each in the blend, but I’ve always had a hankering to bottle 100% Pommard from this place. And then 2018 came along, and it was the easiest decision I ever made.
100% Pommard clone; a 7-day cold soak, followed by 18 more days fermenting on the skins, and about a bazillion manual punch-downs – no fancy pneumatic tools to do the work for us! During fermentation it spoke of raspberries and flowers; and those notes come through in the finished wine. It’s interesting though- what began as more of a red flavor and aromatic profile has evolved such that far darker notes now dominate. But it’s the finish that captivates me – the acidity carries all that weight completely across the finish, and it just lingers. And yet, despite that weight and intensity, it recently paired beautifully with grilled halibut with a compote of butter-poached cherry tomatoes, bacon, and thyme. Only 124 cases made. 95 Points Jeb Dunnuck; 94 Points Wine Enthusiast.