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2018 Holdredge Tilton Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Going west from Sebastopol, Bodega Highway winds through a hilly area that is called, somewhat unsurprisingly, the “Sebastopol Hills”. It’s a truly “cold” climate, not just a “cool” climate, and the wines are distinctive for it. Just before getting to Freestone, Tilton Road heads to the south, directly up a significant grade. After a good while, a smaller road, Falstaff Road, cuts off to the southwest, and near its crest sits a vineyard known as “Tilton Hill Vineyard”. In a word, it’s breathtaking.
The vineyard is owned by Benovia Winery, whose vision in planting this vineyard is perhaps exceeded only by their almost fanatical attention to detail in the vineyard. This is high-density planting (4-foot vine spacing with 5-foot rows), on Goldridge soils. The ridgetop setting, just a stone’s throw from the Pacific, means that temperatures just rarely get very warm even in summer- I think out there mid-70s in summer is normal, and of course, quite cold at night.
It's an area that really resonates with me; our Pratt-Sexton Vineyard is just east of here. In 2018, we were offered a small amount of fruit from Tilton Hill and, as is our custom and practice, we jumped at the opportunity – this place just grows Pinot that is too amazing to refuse. This may be a one time or once in a while opportunity for us, but I’m lobbying for more!
The fermentation story of every wine is unique, there’s always “something” distinctive about every lot of grapes. This one made a statement the day we crushed it; normally, fresh crushed Pinot juice is pinkish at best (keep in mind that like almost all red grapes, Pinot juice is white- the color is from contact with the skins). Not this stuff- it was, without question, the darkest juice I have ever seen from fresh crushed Pinot, and frankly, darker than some Syrahs and Zins I’ve seen at the crusher.
The finished wine is deceptively dark- which I say because for as dark as it is, it’s really a medium weight wine. It has a glorious roundness to it; “round and smooth like a billiards ball” is what went through my mind. We had a bottle last night (with 24-hour sous vide tri-tip), and while we went back and forth about the flavors and aromatics, several things were clear (i) we both loved it, (2) we thought it was incredibly drinkable right now (we finished the bottle before the main course was over), and (iii) we both agreed that the best of this wine, as good as it is right now, is probably going to start revealing itself in a couple of years.
Make no mistake, you can open it now and it will rock, but if you have the patience for just a little aging, if, I think you’ll be thrilled with your decision. I don’t have an “outside” drinking window for this – but I fully expect to open one in a decade and be rewarded. Then again, waiting is overrated.
110 cases produced. $60.00 a bottle. Wine club only.