What We Say 2005 Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: Spy like us?
Operative: Agent Blush
Objective: Send Agent Blush on a follow-up mission to Figge Cellars – and put to rest the rumor that winemaker Peter Figge is a deep-cover operative… and spy a great wine while undercover
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Figge Cellars
Wine Subject: 2003 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Peter Figge
When we first put Peter Figge under surveillance during a previous mission, it was easy to see why we assumed that he was a deep-cover, long-haul operative whose life was designed to infiltrate the wine industry. Today, Agent Blush completes the mission and put the rumors to rest. Finally!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Luscious garnet red, with clear edges and long thin legs
Smell – Ahhh, there’s the gunpowder that I love! It also delivers sweet cherry, with toasty raspberry and oak that round out the nose.
Feel – Dry up front, then medium tannins dig in at the mid-tongue and the top of the mouth
Taste – Big cherry and raspberry, followed with gunpowdery spiciness with oak and sweettart
Finish – Long-lasting, all over mouth flavors and tannins that taper off to cherry poptart
Conclusion – This is an outstanding Pinot Noir that has many of the classic characteristics that I love so much. Its not as ‘barnyard’ as some Pinot Noir can be, but that’s a good thing in my personal opinion. This wine also has good acidity, which makes it a great compliment to food. Also, every wine I have ever tasted from the Paraiso Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands is marvelous and delicious!
Here is an excerpt from our previous surveillance log, when we first investigated Peter Figge:
Peter’s interest in wine began with his exposure to his father’s (his handler?) 4000-bottle wine collection as a child. If this was a tactic designed to get young Peter interested in wine, it worked.
From that point onward, Peter seemed to be on a singular track, designed to usher him through every level of the industry. From his Biology degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, to his time spent working for Beringer and Grgich it was clear that his life-arc had a certain purpose. This was driven home when, in 1997, Peter earned his Master’s Degree in Viticulture.
For the next 6 years, Peter quietly perfected his trade craft while working as vineyard manager for respected wine powerhouse Estancia Estates Winery. Toward the end of his tenure with Estancia, it became apparent that Peter had aspirations of starting his own winery. It was at this point when a prominent business mogul contracted Figge to develop a state-of-the-art vineyard in the fabled Carmel Valley. Figge agreed, with the understanding that he would have all rights to the fruits tended there.
Peter Figge is now producing exceptional wines and while we have not been able to conclusively prove that he is an industry infiltrator, it is clear that he is on his way to International renown as a winemaker of exceptional talent.
Well, today I am both happy and somewhat saddened to report that I have uncovered the truth: Although this masterful winemakers winemaking secrets are closely held, I have concluded that Peter Figge is not a deep cover agent as previously suspected. Peter Figge was simply born to be a winemaker. And a darn good one at that!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
Located towards the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, this vineyard is owned by the Smith family. Rich and Claudia helped pioneer Monterey vineyards in the early 1970’s and have advanced many of Monterey’s viticultural techniques throughout their career. A true family affair, their son Jason now manages the vineyards while son-in-law Dave Fleming acts as the winemaker for the family label, Paraiso Vineyards.
The vineyard is 400 acres of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Figge Cellars has selected one block of Pinot Noir planted in 1998 to three different clones, 667, 777 and 115. Each clone gives different flavors at maturity and compliments each other.
The location of the world famous Paraiso Vineyards, where Peter sources his grapes, can be seen in this satellite photo
Wine Spies Technical Analysis:
Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands, AVA
Fermentation: 100% Barrel Fermented
Barrels: French Oak
Vineyard: Paraiso Vineyard
Residual Sugars: 0.38g/L
Total Acid: 2.5 g/L
Final pH: 3.4
What the Winery Says
Figge Cellars makes 3 wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. Our aim is to make world-class wine. Period.
With this goal in mind, we have found vineyards and growers that have the potential for greatness and then do what we can in the winery to allow each site to express itself fully. We let each separate lot of grapes brought to the winery become its own wine and later choose to accept or reject them for our master blends.
We are pleased to announce that our 2005 vintage wines are ready to enjoy.
Wine makers notes:
2005 PINOT NOIR
September 24, 2005 - Today was a wine makers dream. After all of the work of growing, we were finally ready to harvest our first grapes. The excitement was palpable as the Pinot grapes filled the 4X4 bins at the Paraiso Vineyard. When they arrived at the winery, they were sorted, removing any unwanted fruit and leaves and then, de-stemmed. As the grapes were poured into our open top fermenters we felt like proud parents watching a child’s first step. At this point, the grapes have just begun our Pinot making process.
Tasted Oct. 1, 2006 - Vibrant layers of cherry, spice and roses fill the aroma of the Pinot Noir. The mouth is bright and balanced with cherries, raspberries and refined French oak. A nice spicy note and tons of ripe fruit finish the wine beautifully. (Release date - Spring 2007.)
This year our Pinot grapes were cold soaked for 3 to 5 days at 12 degrees Celsius (we had two separate lots this year). We allowed the tank to warm after inoculation, but maintained temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. The cap management was achieved by punching down (basically, a huge plunger that literally pushes the floating fruit cap down into the grape juice causing the color and flavors to be extracted out of the skins). Upon completion of primary fermentation, we barreled down. Here we insured that secondary fermentation began. We racked and returned to barrel once this year. The barrels used were all Francois Freres, from various French Oak forests with different toast levels. The wine stayed in barrels for 11 months prior to bottling.