Clouds Rest Pinot Noir
2008 Pinot Noir 'femme fatale'
California: Sonoma Coast
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Clouds Rest Vineyards Pinot Noir is an absolutely fantastic wine that we can’t recommend highly enough. Do not miss out on this very limited-production Pinot Noir – that we declare to be the best 2008 Pinot Noir tasted so far this year!
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Mission Codename: Salome vs. Jezebel
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to the remote, 1250-foot elevation, mountainside Pinot Noir vineyards of Clouds Rest – to investigate reports of their brilliant estate Pinot Noir – and secure an ample allotment for our premium Pinot-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Clouds Rest Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2008 Femme Fatale Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
Winemaker: Tony Austin
Clouds Rest, according to some in the wine trade, is quickly becoming the next cult Pinot Noir. One sip tells you why; This is a superior wine in every way. At less than half the price of Cloud Rest’s other Pinots, today’s wine is an absolute bargain. In the coming months, stay tuned for another exclusive Cloud’s Rest feature. Be sure to subscribe to our Daily Dispatch, above.
The Sonoma Coast AVA is the 750 square mile area with the Pacific ocean on its western boundary, the San Pablo Bay to the south and Mendocino County to the north, headed inland to the other designated AVAs in Sonoma County. The region is heavily influenced by the cooler ocean climate, increased rainfall and fog that lingers long on the coastal mountains. The specific climate suits the demanding Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay very well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Striking color, with hues of strawberry juice. In intriguing fashion, the wine looks slightly opaque when viewed from the side while swirling. When viewed from the top, the still wine shows perfect clarity. When swirled, the wine seems to have more mass than most Pinots of recent memory; It settles very quickly and shows off a surface that stops moving almost immediately after you stop swirling. As soon as the wine does settle, long and skinny legs fall slowly from high up on the wall of the glass.
Smell – Dark earthen cherry seems to waft right out of the glass, long before you even lift it to your nose! This warm and wonderful cherry gives way to elegant aromas of strawberry, violets, black cherry and soft spice.
Feel – Befitting its name, this wine has a seductive, voluptuous entry. It hovers across the tongue before it settles in all around the edges of the palate. Softly and slowly, the finest dryness begins to spread, starting at the tip of the tongue and eventually leading to a super soft, all-around-the mouth dryness.
Taste – Delicious and very flavorful, with soft red cherry, strawberry and cassis that is perfectly balanced against, earthy black cherry, dried violets, subtle black tea and a hint of spicy leather.
Finish – Extra-long, the flavors evolve and change before they slowly and lovingly diminish. The red fruit very gradually gives way to the earthen characteristics and soft spice. At the very end, a softly spiced soft leather lingers for a moment, to then be replaced by a very subtle pepper-mineral spice.
Conclusion – In a word: “WOW!”. Our tasting panel of seasoned Wine Spies has absolutely fallen in love with this fantastic Pinot Noir. We’ve also fallen for the wonderful people behind this amazing wine. I had the great fortune to walk the steeply planted mountainside vineyards with the Clouds Rest crew and before I ever had the pleasure to taste today’s amazing wine, I got a glimpse into how much love goes into their wine. The vineyard is unique, as is the placement, the row spacing and the terrain. With no other Pinot Noir plantings within miles, I wondered how they could have been so bold as to plant Pinot at this location. Their gamble, it turns out, was a carefully calculated one. The vines produce the finest fruit – from which the winery produces extraordinary Pinot Noir.
Today’s wine is soft, sexy and super delicious. I find myself wanting to refer to this wine as she and her, as the wines character is so distinctly feminine. The aromatics had me inhaling the wine for several minutes before I ever took a sip. When I did sip, it was true love. With a fruit-forward profile, the wine is also beautifully balanced in the other direction, offering up an earthy soft leather and spice that give it a more classic Pinot appeal.
This wine is Clouds Rest’s entry level wine, and we can assure you that we will make every attempt to bring you their other offerings. Be warned, though, the big sisters to this wine weigh in at more than twice the price, making today’s wine an unbelievable value. She’s a stunning wine, and I recommend that you allow yourself to be seduced by her. You won’t be disappointed.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Tony Austin
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. UC Davis, Enology & Viticulture
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker Firestone Vineyard ’1975-83, Owner/Winemaker Austin Cellars 1983-94. Grower of Pinot Noir 1984- present for personal enjoyment, winemaker Clouds Rest Vineyards 2002- present.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Minimal intervention, Maximum style
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “just quit fiddling with it”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Firestone, 1976
AGENT RED: Greetings, Tony. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Clouds Rest Femme Fatale Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
TONY: Glad to help promote wine enjoyment through knowledge.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
TONY: Just growing up in Sonoma County, I think it’s genetic in my case!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
TONY: André Tchelistcheff was my mentor during my first years as a winemaker. From his inspiration, the passion for artistic involvement and goals elevated the perception of what is possible. He helped me recognize wine as art, not just a beverage
RED: Who do you make wine for?
TONY: Clouds Rest Pinot Noir is made to please my palate as well as those seeking a wine that will make you think and give you the “wow” factor true “Pinotphiles” long for.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
TONY: This “estate” bottling is 100% from the high density planting at Clouds Rest. This is a very special and unique site; volcanic “soils”, (actually volcanic rocks) and a very high density of 4,900 plants per acre making this the highest density planting (to my knowledge). 4 (four) Clones planted are Dijon 115,667,777 and Pommard 3 make for tremendous complexity and depth. The 1200 foot elevation puts it in the Cloud layer (fog) nearly every night, thus the name.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
TONY: Pinot Noir is extremely versatile with food. My absolute favorite would be the grilled rack of lamb with a mint/garlic rub prepared by Clouds Rest Vintner, John Saemann… it’s truly legendary!
RED: Please be sure to invite me over, the next time he prepares that! Tell me, in your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Coast AVA so special?
TONY: The Sonoma Coast AVA is absolutely perfect for growing pinot noir. We get the warm days, ocean breezes and cooler nights that produce world class wines.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
TONY: We are currently right in the middle of harvest in Sonoma County.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
TONY: The art of perception requires focus, and a degree of motivation. Look closely, and especially when enjoying a fine Pinot, get the right glass, one that has a large bowl. Pour enough in the glass so that it is allowed to “breath” over time before the glass is emptied . . . repeat.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Clouds Rest Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
The fruit for this wine comes from the same vineyard as our “Limited Release” pinot noir’s; it just sees much less time in the bottle. Rich cherry flavors with hints of plum, cola and vanilla. Balanced acidity and structure lead you to a lingering finish that leaves you wanting more. California body with a Burgundy Soul is Clouds Rest “femme fatale”.
About The Winery:
The Clouds Rest Estate Vineyard is situated at a lofty 1250’ on Sonoma Mountain in the heart of the Sonoma Coast Appellation. A dream come true for founder, John Saemann, a passionate pinot collector. Planted in unique volcanic soil on rocky hillsides, the fruit ripens with warm days and cool ocean breezes which help create the unique terroir of Clouds Rest Pinot Noir. This is the most intensely planted vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA, at 3’ X 3’ spacing, which makes it ever so difficult and expensive to farm. The vines are forced to struggle and compete in this rocky terrain for minerals and water just to survive; at times it can be an unforgiving environment. It is this struggle for survival that is evident in any vineyard that produces world-class Pinot Noir.
100% of the farming is by hand. There are 10,000+ vines planted high density, 36” X 36”, on the 1.75 acres of the finest Pinot Noir clones selected block by block to ripen together combining to create the consistent, rich and seductive terroir of Clouds Rest Pinot Noir. This is true Burgundian style Pinot Noir which is aged 18 months in the finest French Oak (50% new each year).
In the past, Clouds Rest has only produced one Pinot Noir each year. In 2008 winemaker, Tony Austin & Saemann believed this wine was too great to hold back all of it for their bottle aging program and, “femme fatale” was born.
The 2008 Clouds Rest “femme fatale” Pinot Noir is made with all of the care and tradition that is put into the aged Clouds Rest Pinots, this one is just released as a young ingénue, ready to take your breath away.
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation: Sonoma Coast