“For all the toll the desert takes of a man, it gives compensations, deep breaths, deep sleep, and the communion of stars.”
—Mary Austin, The land of little rain
In 2014, I secured one ton of outstanding Pinot Noir grapes from a vineyard in the "deep end" of Anderson Valley. The "deep end" of the valley is only a few miles from the ocean, and is graced with cool, foggy nights, and warm, sunny afternoons. In other words, an ideal location for growing varietally expressive Pinot Noir.
Beginning with the 2015 vintage, I started sourcing Pinot Noir from the majestic Monument Tree Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Monument Tree was planted in 1999, has north-eastern sloping exposure, and soils that are a mix of loamy clay and decomposed sandstone. It sits about 10 miles as the crow flies from the Mendocino coast. Altogether these factors yield the style of cool climate Pinot that I adore: earthy, slightly herbaceous notes that complement a fruity core of bright, bing cherry and wild blackberry.
Current Release: 2017 Monument Tree Vineyard Pinot Noir
The 2017 winter season brought plentiful rain, helping to fortify the vines for the growing season. The season progressed normally through spring and early summer with no major weather events, until early September, when a heat spike set in for several days. Thankfully the vines persevered, and grapes were harvested on September 12th and 13th, 2017.
This vintage is a blend of clones 777 and 667. Grapes were fermented in 1 ton bins, with about 13% whole cluster fermentation. Following fermentation, wine was aged on the lees for 15 months in 25% new French oak barrels, and 75% used French oak barrels.
The 2017 Monument Tree Pinot Noir is somewhat dark and mysterious at first glance – it has a brooding nature with loads of spicy, earthy elements; yet it still maintains the fruit-forward, red cherry charm that I’ve come to recognize from this vineyard. Aromatically, there’s an interplay of sweet notes like black plum and vanilla cream, alongside hints of forest floor, sage and black olive. The palate is broad and coating at entry, bursting forth with flavors of maraschino liqueur and red licorice. The tannins are firm yet elegant and bound together by a mouth-watering acidity. Ever-present is the underlying earthy spice that is so typical of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir – that quality that keeps the palate intrigued and the senses nimble. It will be exciting to see the trajectory of this wine in years to come.