Living along the San Francisco Peninsula, I’m no stranger to Thomas Fogarty wines or the winery. But, as Tommy Fogarty, current managing proprietor of the estate will admit, a trip up the steep slopes of Woodside to this secluded winery is a dedicated trip — the sole prize atop that mountainside is Thomas Fogarty wines. And I feel that holds true for the wines themselves. So unique are his productions that, when seeking out a Thomas Fogarty wine, you’re seeking out a specific feeling and flavor.

thomas-fogarty-santa-cruz-mountains-pinot-noir-2012

You can read a bit more about the winery from my brief interview with Tommy during the Wine Spectator Top 100 event this past year. But, as I said, Thomas Fogarty is quite a local winery for me, and I will hold off writing about the winery’s history, philosophy, and physical venue for my actual winery review (to come).

About the Wine: Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes harvested from four distinct regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains. About 10% of the fruit came from two separate estate vineyards located along the maritime-influenced Skyline Boulevard, with the rest coming from the Los Gatos hills and Summit road area, which are influenced by rocky terrain and high elevations in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Thomas Fogarty practices all-natural fermentation with each of their wines. This Pinot Noir was aged 11 months in French oak (20% new).

13.1% ABV

Flavor Profile: The thing about Thomas Fogarty wines is you can tell straight from the bottle and into the glass that this is a wine made with respect to the land and the fruit. Visually, this Pinot Noir is a bit darker than those rich, plush wines of the same varietal hailing from the stereotypical Sonoma region. It’s a bruised red, emitting initial aromas of darker fruits like black cherries, plums, maybe even currents. And you get a definite sense both ocean and rocky minterality even on the nose — it’s that essence of wet stone.

On the palate, the wine goes even deeper, believe it or not. It seems that the minerality and those fruits are holding hands right from the start — both are gentle, and you’ll find an innate freshness to the wine straight-away. Those primary flavors delicately transition to a firmer, earthier sensation, emitting some savory, herbaceous flavors like ground coriander — maybe the slightest hint of clove. The finish has a bit of funk to it, that I can’t define other than it’s actually quite beautiful. That’s right — this wine has a funky beauty that just lingers so gently in the back of your throat after the perfectly solid, and clean, finish.

This is a medium bodied red wine with low acidity and low to medium tannins. Perfectly balanced in taste and texture.

Food Pairing: The night I enjoyed Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir I paired it with seared duck breast alongside a cauliflower-based stuffing (basic stuffing ingredients, substituting cauliflower for bread) and topped with a fig-raspberry red wine reduction sauce. For me — perfect pairing.

I encourage you to pair this wine with a gamier protein from the farm — be it duck, goose, maybe a lighter cut of lamb — to play with, and bring out, the beauty in the funk. Whatever your side is — stuffing, salad, roasted veggies — get those herbs involved to enhance those savory herbs in the wine. And I would encourage a berry-based wine sauce to, again, amplify the fruits in the wine.

The thing is that this wine — for all its complexity — is quite subtle. So don’t be afraid to go big and bold with the flavors of your food. I guarantee Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir can stand up to it.

More Info: If you haven’t read my brief Thomas Fogarty overview in the Wine Spectator Top 100 event article, please do so. Thomas Fogarty wines predominantly specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though they do have a Gewurztraminer and Nebbiolo (currently sold out) listed in their collection (perhaps something to try in-house).

As I said, Thomas Fogarty is a local winery, so I’m not sure how readily available the wines will be outside of California. I was able to purchase Thomas Fogarty Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir at Whole Foods (Price: $30). For more information about Thomas Fogarty, the family, the venue, the wines, and to purchase wines directly, you can — of course — visit the Thomas Fogarty website.


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