As far as California wines go, Pinot Noir is most notably at home in the Sonoma Coast where, even with its varying microclimates, produces Pinots that garner descriptors such as “plush,” “cherry-driven,” “light and bright.” But, alas, we are not in Sonoma any longer, my Totos. We’ve traversed the terrains of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
About the Wine: Mun’s Vineyard is the highest Pinot Noir vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains at 2600 feet above the Monterey Bay. It has a classic coastal climate — foggy days with blissful sea-breezes keep moisture in the air and the overall temperature cool. The Santa Cruz Mountains themselves are a result of a tectonic plate crash way back when. As such, there’s not a lot of good growing spots — infertile land, extremely intense sloping, and/or various different soil types, sometimes (oftentimes) within the same vineyard. But the extreme elevation, coupled with its proximity to the ocean is what makes the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA so unique. Throw in the fact that we’re now working with sand stone, clay, and loamy soils — well, it’s no wonder the Pinots in this place are so intensely ripe and the wines are, well, you’ll read more below…
Muns Vineyard predominantly sells their grapes to other wineries — like Three Arches — who craft their own juice from Muns produce. Three Arches Muns Vinyeyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, all from Muns Vineyard. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and saw very little oak during aging.
Flavor Profile: “Whoa,” you’ll think when you pour this wine into your glass. For a moment you may consider that you’ve opened the wrong bottle. The smell is piquant with savory aromas of Kalamata olives, star anise, the only ‘sweetness’ coming through with the unmistakable scent of currants. For those most familiar with the “plush” and fresh fruit-forward Pinots of the Sonoma Coast, you’d probably assume a Cab or bold Zin if blind-tasting.
Take a sip. There’s an initial “watery” refresh-ness at the front of the tongue, but that doesn’t last for long. No, those bold dried fruit flavors (predominantly that current, but you could argue a bit of date as well), that rustic dirty earth come to the forefront straight-away, with secondary flavors of cruciferous vegetables (think about the funkiness of brussel sprousts or the almost dry-ness of a broccoli). And those tannins. If you couldn’t taste them during the mid-palate, they’ll be sure to grab a hold of your tongue during the finish. It’s a strong one with the grab and hold of grape skins to every pore and bud of the tongue.
I say it every time I write a Three Arches post, but these guys (and gals) know how to pack a punch — in this case a Pinot punch.
Food Pairing: My friends, think of this as a bold, tannic Zin and you’ll know exactly what to pair Three Arches Mun’s Vineyard Pinot Noir with. Think a saucy Bolognese pasta tossed with olives, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, and pungent onion. Think a spice-filled pizza topped with those same veggies plus a bit of goat’s cheese for contrast. You’re going to want something saucy and a bit acidic to contrast those strong tannins; you’re going to want to include some of those spice-filled veggies, those cruciferous ones as well, to pay homage to the earthiness and those complimentary flavors of the wine; you’ll want something to ultimately cut through all of that intensity (the goat cheese, the pasta noodles) to add a calming effect to the palate. Take advantage of this unique food and wine pairing — don’t be afraid to go big — this Pinot can handle it, I assure you.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read my other Three Arches reviews, please do so. For more information about this boutique winery, please visit the Three Arches
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