2019 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. It’s an interesting site that produces bold wines.
We historically took two clones of Pinot from this vineyard, but as the years went by, I found we really preferred the Pommard clone, and as we did in 2018, the 2019 is 100% Pommard. The grapes came in extremely cold, and what I had planned would be a 5-7 day cold soak lingered to 9 days, but it wasn’t until after moving the bins out into the sun for three straight days that we had a real fermentation going. So, it’s a solar-powered wine I suppose. Then, while I had planned on pressing the wine before it was totally dry and finishing fermentation in barrel (I find it avoids some of the harsher elements that a longer ferment can create), the textures were so supple I decided to let the wine stay in contact with the skins and macerate for a few days, which became an additional 16 days. All of which confirms my belief that if your plan is to have a plan as to what you’re going to do in a winery, you need a better plan.
The finished wine is true to its place and its name. It is, in a word, massive. And yet, it isn’t monolithic or blundering- as the moderate temperatures of this site ensure plenty of acid to balance all that weight. Dark red cherries, cut black tea, black raspberries and a floral note (violets?) all contribute to the aromatics. What I really like about it is how flexible it is with food; the current “house favorite” pairing for this has been with a slab of salmon (salt only), we grill it using indirect heat as it rests on lemon slices. But a recent foray into pairing it with a Strip Steak with Sauce Bordelaise received a rather rousing reception from the boss. I think this is going to be most compelling for the next 7-9 years. Only 101 cases made. 95 Points - Wine Enthusiast.