I came into contact with Emeritus Vineyards when they started offering their monthly educational webinar series. I highly recommend them, and you can read more about the series here. It’s interesting to learn about their specific piece of Russian River Valley terroir. Indeed, the AVA is so huge, it really makes a difference which pocket you’re planting in. And what these different sections of the AVA offer are unique aroma, flavor, and textural profiles of the region’s most planted (and most well-known) red wine grape: Pinot Noir.
I previously reviewed the Emeritus Vineyards 2017 Pinot Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir. But this wine here is a point of difference. To make a Pinot Noir Blanc (note: not Pinot Blanc) Pinot Noir’s juices are immediately separated from the skins in order to prevent any color or tannin extraction. What this creates is a pure expression of how the extremely cool climate of Russian River’s Sebastopol neighborhood nurtures the delicate grape and allows it to maintain a pointed acidity and fresh fruit flavors. And with the Emeritus winemaking team’s minimalist techniques in the cellar, these innate characteristics shine through from first sip to lingering finish.
About the Wine:
The Emeritus Vineyards Hallberg Blanc is made from100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the estate’s Hallberg Ranch Vineyard, located in the Sebastopol neighborhood of the Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County, California. Hallberg Ranch Vineyard is home to Goldridge sandy loam soils underlain with Sebastopol sandy clay loam and reaches just about 200 feet in elevation. The vineyard is planted to 107.76 acres of Pinot Noir and includes clones 4, 5, 37, 115, 459, 667, 777, 828, Cruz, Elite, and Hyde—all of which is 100% dry farmed.
Immediately following harvest, the grapes for the Hallberg Blanc were gently pressed to remove juices and prevent skin contact. The juice was then fermented in combination concrete tank and neutral barrels using native yeast and low temperatures.
Appearance: pale lemon
Aroma: medium (+) intensity with notes of Golden Delicious apple, agave nectar, chamomile blossoms, lemon zest, nectarine, pear, a bit of milk/cream, vanilla, and nutmeg.
Palate: The palate is dry with high acidity, a medium level of alcohol, and an overall medium body. The flavor intensity is also medium (+) and provides many of the same notes as those mentioned in the aromas, with an elevation in those lemon/lime zesty notes, florals, and baking spices. There was also a subtle wet rock or minerally earthiness on the palate that I did not pick up on the nose. I also want to add that the finish, which was medium (+) in length, came to a wonderful point that concluded with just a touch of texture and delicate drying of the palate.
Conclusion: Based on WSET criteria, I determined that the Emeritus Vineyards 2018 Hallberg Blanc is a very good quality wine. The fact that it was fermented in concrete and neutral oak means that there is very little (if any) oak influence and minimum oxygen exposure, so the wine maintains those delicate fruit and floral aromas innate to (the skinless version of) the variety. And because of the vineyard’s extremely cool temperatures, the wine is able to maintain a strong dose of acidity that keeps those fresh fruit flavors alive. That touch of oak, that touch of oxygen, and a touch of (perhaps) a bit of time on lees (not confirmed, just speculating), I think is what lends to that little bit of texture on the tongue that I quite enjoyed. It gave what could have been an extremely light and airy wine, a bit of body and structure.
I also want to say that I think this is a wine to enjoy now. (So go get some.) I think this wine deserves to be drunk while young, fresh, and vibrant. No need to cellar. No need to wait. Cheers.
Food Pairing: Oh my goodness almost anything. This is a very easy, well-rounded white wine that can be enjoyed (honestly) any time of year with any kind of food.
More Info: I received the Emeritus Vineyards 2018 Hallberg Blanc as a sample for review. (Cheers, Mari, and the whole Emeritus team!) Price: $40. For more information about Emeritus, their wine, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Emeritus Vineyards website.
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