John Fones, owner and winemaker of Cellars 33, is no stranger to Sonoma Coast fruit. He cut his winemaking teeth interning for Freeman Winery, in the heart of the Russian River Valley, and worked alongside Ed Kurtzman as Assistant Winemaker for August West — who sources their grapes from the RRV, among other California coastal appellations. So, it’s no wonder that he chose two diverse Sonoma Coast vineyards to create his expression of cool-climate Pinot.
About the Wine: Cellars 33 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes sourced 40% from Gloria Vineyard, and 60% from Hummingbird Hill Vineyard. While both cool-climate vineyard sites, Fones explains that it’s their differences that create a unique wine when putting the two sources together. Gloria Vineyard, located in the westernmost part of the Russian River Valley appellation, is just ten miles from the Pacific Ocean, benefitting from the maritime air and Goldridge sandy loam soils. Hummingbird Vineyard, located in the outskirts of Santa Rosa, near Taylor Mountain, receives it’s chilling winds through the funnel known as the Petaluma Gap. Here, the Pinot Noir is planted along a steep, west facing hillside with volcanic soils.
“There’s no telling if two vineyards will blend well together until you try it,” says Fones. These two certainly did; 2015 is the first vintage of the blended vineyard Pinot Noirs.
The grapes for this blended vineyard Pinot Noir remained separate until bottling. The separate juices went through primary, malolactic fermentation using native malolactic bacteria. The wine was aged in seasoned French oak barrels for 11 months.
[Cellar 33 also has a current release single-vineyard Pinot Noir from Gloria Vineyard. Soon to be released is the 2016 single vineyard Pinot from Hummingbird Hill.]
Flavor Profile: Pop the cork and breath in black plum jam or compote along with the dankness — the cool wet stink — of an oak barrel in an underground cave. On the pour, Cellars 33 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a dusty shade of a red-kisses-purple hue. But it’s a calm, light dust that you can gaze right through. In the glass, the Pinot Noir settles into a more mature, full-on rouge color that takes up the whole of the glass, from center to the very edge of the perimeter.
Initial aromas are all about rose petals. Take a second breath and find the vibrant, classical Pinot Noir fruits: strawberries, cherries, cranberry juice. Swirl, and the wine opens up the earth, revealing slightly damp soil, dew-drop dampened grass, hints of cedar chips, and eucalyptus bark. Move to the top of the glass to find where the fruits and florals combine. Pull the nose away, and find a full bouquet of those red rose petals once more.
On the palate, Cellars 33 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is as smooth as silk, with a thin line of acidity and near invisible tannins. The flavor is a celebration of an edible flower, but here we are immersed in that flower from petal to stem to leaves to root. Indeed, there is a certain meaty umaminess that forms a background. The finish is a lingering one, complete with the gentle tingle of baking spices, a delicate coat of tannins over the tongue, and the most comforting warmth surrounding the perimeter of the mouth.
Food Pairing: I paired the Cellars 33 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with a medium-rare grilled filet mignon with a blueberry and fig salad tossed with blue cheese crumbles and dressed with a fig-balsamic vinaigrette. Because of the calming, silk-like texture of the Pinot Noir and the gentle use of tannins, this wine is one that can be paired with bitter greens like spinach or arugula. The blueberries on this dish brought out that “dirt of the earth” essence, that celebration of the fruits and flowers down to their very roots. And the steak, left with just enough “rarity” within, perfectly complemented the fine, silky texture. But if you like your steak cooked a little more well-done, rest assured that this wine has all the strength to stand next to a heartier cut, cooked through.
More Info: Read more about Cellars 33 here.
I received the Cellars 33 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers, John and Katie!) Retail: $26. For more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Cellars 33 website.
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