Bohème Wines takes its name based on its Bohemian Highway location along the Sonoma Coast. Back in 1872 a San Francisco-based men’s club, the Bohemian Club was established — a group of artists, prominent business leaders, even a few government officials. In 1878, the men decided to follow the Bohemian Highway route to what is now referred to as the Bohemian Grove. Here the club would host a two to three week encampment celebrating art in all forms — whether created by man or nature.

You come upon it suddenly. One step and its glory is over you. There is no perspective; you cannot get far enough away from one of the trees to see it as a whole. There they stand, a world of height above you, their pinnacles hidden by their topmost fringes of branches or lost in the sky.

William Henry Irwin, writer & Bohemian Club Member

About the Winery: The history of the Bohemian Highway is important to the story of Bohème Wines. As winemaker Kurt Beitler says, “To me it’s natural that a club celebrating bohemian life was drawn to this place of beauty.  130 years ago and still today the Sonoma Coast provokes artistic expression and free living.” And when asked what the Bohemian expression of wine means, he says it’s a wine’s ability to tell a story, one that is “earthy, mysterious, vibrant, transformative.”

To me — it is where the art of nature and the art of man collide.

About the Wine: Bohème Wines 2012 Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from Bohème’s estate vineyard, Stuller Vineyard. This 60 acre vineyard is unique in that it’s planted among redwood trees, just shy of 6 miles from the ocean, and just over 1,200 feet of elevation. But the real “hallmark” of the vineyard is its dual soil types: Yorkville Clay Loam, Josephine Clay Loam. Because of the inclusion of both types of soil, Beitler was able to include two Pinot Noir clones within the same vineyard: Dijon Clone 115 (the most popular clone, yielding low acid fruits with deep coloring and fruit-filled flavoring) and Dijon Clone 667 (a lower yielding clone that produces smaller, tighter clusters that produce more earthy aromatics).

The grapes for this vintage were cold-soak, hand punched-down and aged for 25 months in seasoned French Burgundy barrels.

14.1% ABV

473 cases produced

Flavor Profile: Nose above the bottle and smell the sweet fertile earth. Deep breath in, again above the bottleneck, and you can picture the mushrooms growing in the darkness of night on a damp rainforest floor.

On the pour Bohème Wines 2012 Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir shows a brownish-red color, giving it this almost old wiseman kind of look: It is the blood of the elder. In the glass, this old-blooded Pinot gathers a bit of luminosity and sparkle.

Deep breath into the glass, and the Bohème Pinot Noir provides initial aromatics reminiscent of black berries dipped in chocolate. Swirl and sniff again, go deeper into forest and smell the fumes of freshly foraged mushrooms that were once buried in dank soil. Go deeper still and enjoy the background scents of fresh cut grass, hints of sweet anise leaf, and little bits of eucalyptus. (Place nose at the top of the glass to get these subtler background smells.)

The initial taste is of ripe, full cranberry plucked from the bush — indeed, there is that lingering tartness that comes from cranberry in its true, raw form. Mid-palate will bring a tree bark like tannin, cranberry skins, and something a little more decadent like raw cacao or almond skins. The finish brings on a more sterner leafy vegetation than sensed on the nose. Those initial grassy aromatics aren’t here on the palate — it’s more like you’ve climbed further up the tree at this point and found those thick-green, arching, canopy-creating leaves.

And for all of that journey, from the forest floor to the top of the tree, the Bohème Wines Stuller Vineyard is a completely well-balanced wine. The acid is a solid medium level throughout — those with a sensitive tongue may sense a final burst of those cranberry fruits at the finish. The tannins, again, an overall solid medium — though negligible at the start they become stronger as the taste continues. And all the while fruit — light and lively fruit. The texture isn’t tannic but nor would I call it plush or soft, round or smooth. It’s sturdy. It knows it’s place. It stand it’s own. It’s confident in the story it has to tell.

Food Pairing: The best way to test out a new Pinot? Ah yes, a Pinot and Pizza Party. And a party it was. I loved how the spice in the pizza amplified the freshness of the fruit in the wine while the veggies pulled on those herbaceous elements in the wine — especially in the finish. In fact after tasting the wine with my food and playing with the flavors in my mouth I had one last thought that I will quote here:

I want to taste the grapes from the vine to taste that place and time.

Yeah. That’s a good Pinot Noir.

More Info: Bohème Wines may seem like an “off the beaten path” brand, but Kurt Beitler is a 5th generation winemaker whose Occidental tasting room is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays. (And rumor has it, if you stop by on the weekend, Kurt may be behind the tasting table himself).

This is my first experience with Bohème Wines and it certainly won’t be my last. Pinot Noir is their main claim to fame — and I’d love the opportunity to taste the expression of each estate vineyard. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that they also make a Chardonnay — and I do like my Sonoma Chards!

I received my bottle of Bohème Wines 2012 Stuller Vineyard Pinot Noir as a gift. (Cheers, Dave). Retail price for the 2013 vintage is $53. For more information about Bohème Wines and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Bohème Wines website.

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