A Russian River profile is evident in this wine, which leads with aromas and flavors of bright red fruits such as raspberry, strawberry and Bing cherry laced with a touch of cherry compote. Allspice and clove join some vanilla and caramel oak notes, leading to a full, plush mouthfeel and silky tannins. Balanced acidity and minerality linger in a memorable, lasting finish.
Director of Winemaking Harry Hansen was raised in nearby Sonoma County. “One of my earliest memories of wine was the gallon jug of red wine that we always had at home. I would go with my father to a local winery, maybe in Kenwood or Healdsburg, to refill that jug and chit-chat with the winery proprietors. The aromas of those wines were always something attractive, somehow mysterious, but always memorable.”
Harry joined Sterling Vineyards and relocated to Napa Valley just before the 2011 Harvest. “The opportunity to join such a respected Napa Valley winery is exciting and a fantastic next step in my winemaking career. Sterling Vineyards is making some wonderful wines, and I look forward to taking that next step up in quality and reputation.”
Early season rains brought yields back to normal levels this year, mitigating the extended drought that afflicted most of California. A cool spring resulted in normal timing for bud break, in late March. Temperatures remained fairly cool in May and June, but high temperatures in July triggered an early start to harvest. Quality was solid for the vintage overall.
Fruit for this reserve wine was sourced from the Emeritus vineyard in Sebastopol farmed under the direction of Sonoma County legend Kirk Lokka, widely known for his stewardship of high quality Pinot Noir. Soils are classic Goldridge sandy-loam common to the area, which is heavily impacted by marine influences from the Pacific a scant 20 miles west. Sunny warm days are tempered by cooling fog. In this vintage, three clones were selected – 777, 667 and 828 – and fruit was picked together and fermented as a field blend.
The Pinot Noir grapes were handled very gently from vineyard to winery. Fruit underwent a cold soak prior to fermentation in stainless open top fermenters to enhance color depth. Free run juice was drained, and the new wine sent directly to barrel to complete malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged for nine months in 100% French oak (50% new) before it was bottled and allowed an additional six months of age to gain complexity before release.
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