I was so glad when a friend gifted me this wine. Mostly because I’ve previously reviewed this little-known winemaker and think he’s one of northern California wine country’s best kept secrets. Managing his own 8.5 acre vineyard site in Marin County, winemaker Stewart Johnson can now proudly claim the Petaluma Gap AVA on his bottles, since it became California’s newest AVA about 6 months ago. All of that put together, I was eager to “catch up” with Stew via his wine…

About the Wine: The Kendric Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from Kendric Vineyards, located in California’s Marin County and the new Petaluma Gap AVA.

13.1% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Kendric Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir and find enticing aromas of fresh ripe blackberries and boysenberries, hints of ocean air, and an essence of milk chocolate. This Pinot Noir presents a dusty light rouge on the pour, settling into the glass just the same, completely penetrable from the core on out. In fact it’s so dusty, rusty, rouge-y your brain goes straight to an expectation of rugged rusticity from this wine.

Initial aromas are intense. Indeed, this wine is so aromatic even while pouring. You’ll find fresh oak wood takes center stage, leading to an almost woodsy-cologne-like scent, and a background of red rose bush. Swirl — yes, this wine needs to be swirled — and enliven those fruits sense d on the pour and add to it fresh raspberries and bing cherries as well. Pull away from the glass for a subtle perfume scent.

The palate of the Kendric Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir is full, but light; bright, but textural; and certainly tart from start to finish — though that finish dries out completely. Dominant flavors are of bright red raspberry, underripe plum, red cherry, fresh cherry wood, and dried rose petals.

My opinion of this wine is that it’s still developing. The fruits are so overwhelmingly tart and the finish almost distractingly dry, and there’s no continuity between those two points. The wine is, actually, quite staccato. And the fact that the wood flavors are so prominent, lead me to believe this wine needs time to find its cohesion between all of these elements. I would give it at least two to three years before tasting again.

Food Pairing: That being said, I paired the Kendric Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir with a pizza. And, as my partner in wine crime said, “It’s a good Friday night wine.” So if you are going to enjoy it now, enjoy it with something as fun-filled as a pizza, a movie, a friend, and don’t think too hard on it. You can drink it and you can enjoy it. But if you have this wine and have the patience, my advice is to hang tight — because the wine is, indeed, too tight.

More Info: I received the Kendric Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir as a gift. (Cheers Jim!) Retail: $38. For more information about Kendric Vineyards, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Kendric Vineyards website.

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