2007 Winery Block Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What we say
Today’s superb wine drinks above its price-class, earning it today’s special QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) alert.
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Mission Codename: The Secret Stash
Operative: Agent Noir
Objective: Agent Noir is back, and this time we sent him to Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley to locate a great Pinot Noir that drinks above its price category.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Balletto Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Winery Block Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Anthony Beckman
Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pretty and brightly colored with a ruby hue that gets more vibrant on the edges, this wine shimmers and reflects the light like a red gemstone that seems alive.
Smell – The bouquet is full of flowers, fresh cut and dried, some roses and a few violets, with red fruits, spice and smoky sweet vanilla, mocha and oak shadings.
Feel – The palate is smoothly lush, rich and silky round, classic Pinot Noir in texture and class, but still lively and zesty too.
Taste – The mouth starts with black cherry, plum, boysenberry pie and cocoa, with layers of cola, exotic spices and earthy lavender, again this is classic Pinot Noir character, plus it shows the Russian River Terroir to perfection.
Finish – Savory sweet and long on the finish with lots of blackberry jam, coffee bean, vanilla and candied cherry all lingering, while still all balanced with crisp acidity that makes you want even more.
Conclusion – This focused and very well made Pinot Noir is pure and a real joy, with style and substance that make this wine punch way above its weight price wise. You can enjoy this wine anytime and anywhere without quilt as it is light on the wallet and great with food and or just sipping away. I would suggest mild cheeses, simple red meats or salmon to go with this Pinot, and lots of smiling friends.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Anthony Beckman
WINE EDUCATION: 3 years as the wine buyer for Taylor’s Market in Sacramento, CA. Bachelors of Science in Viticulture and Enology University of California-Davis
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Grow it on the vines, and do as little as possible in the winery.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2001
AGENT RED: Greetings, Anthony. We are thrilled to be showing your Winery Block Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ANTHONY: It’s a pleasure to be here with everyone.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ANTHONY: When I was12 or 13, I went to dinner with my parents in Santa Fe, New Mexico at a place called Julian’s, and they served a duck breast with a fresh blueberry reduction sauce. That first bite changed my life. It was the first time that food gave me such a strong emotional and physical response. I was in heaven. To this day, I have a vivid memory of those flavors, how well they fit together and – most importantly – the incredible feeling they gave me. After that, I started searching for foods that would re-create that first food-related emotional experience, and of course came across fine wine in the process, and…well, everything changed when that happened and there really was no turning back from a career that involved wine. It became too much a part of my daily life to not dive in and become a part of it.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ANTHONY: As a young winemaker, there certainly are some giants in the winemaking world that I look up to, and they all share the same qualities in their winemaking. In general, their wines are balanced, and beautiful, with an elegant texture, a healthy dose of acidity and lots of complexity. Wines that make you think about the flavors and layers instead of being beaten over the head with them. Regardless of the variety, if a wine has all those things, I’m going to like it. And, it’s really what I am trying to do with all the wines I’m making for Balletto Vineyards.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ANTHONY: I feel that winemaking is 95 percent artistic expression, and – like a painter or sculptor or poet – the end product needs to be displayed and shared so that someone across the world can open a bottle and get that awesome spark of enjoyment from a wine that I’ve made. Without that wine-loving consumer, winemaking wouldn’t be nearly as fun or fulfilling.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ANTHONY: The 2007 Balletto Vineyards Winery Block is selected from a special block of Pinot Noir that surrounds our winery in the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley. It’s always the most pretty of the single vineyard Pinot Noirs we produce. It’s also the wine that we most sell to high-end restaurants as chefs love this wine because it’s such a versatile food pairing wine. The aromas are classic Pinot with bright cherry, raspberry, forest floor and clove and cinnamon spice. It has a fine-grained tannin structure and it’s all held together with an incredibly balanced acidity. It’s drinking beautifully right now, but will improve in bottle for another three or four years.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ANTHONY: I’m a sucker for fresh wild salmon – caught that day if you’re really lucky – grilled with a touch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. The flavors are just big enough to compliment this elegant wine without overpowering it.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
ANTHONY: The Russian River Valley – especially where we’re located in the cool southern tip of it – is one of those perfect places to grow wine grapes. In the morning, we’re drenched with cold fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean. By mid morning, the sun will be shining and we’ll gain 30 or more degrees in a few hours. By early evening the fog will roll back in and cool things down again. Because of this weather pattern, we’re able to get ripe flavors at lower alcohols and still maintain the grapes’ natural acidity.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ANTHONY: This is the best part of the season. Bottling is over and the 2009s are safely tucked away in barrel. Now I’m just starting to think about my Pinot Noir blends and tasting all my barrels to figure out what new oak worked for which lots and which barrels I want to order for the 2010 season.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ANTHONY: In general, I’m a true believer in the axiom ‘Drink what you like, and like what you drink.’ Because we’re dealing with individuals and their personal tastes, there is no universally excellent wine. It doesn’t matter if it’s cheap, expensive, critically acclaimed or critically panned. If you like it and it gives you enjoyment, then it’s excellent. The person sitting next to you might disagree, and that’s what makes it entertaining. If we all liked the same things, the wine world certainly would be a boring place.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ANTHONY: We’ve just started our Balletto Vineyards Facebook page and it’s a cool way to keep track of everything we’re doing throughout the growing season.
RED: I’ll tell people to check it out. 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 Balletto Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal Winner – Sonoma County Fair
About This Wine:
This dark red Russian River Valley Pinot Noir showcases bright aromas of strawberry, cherry, raspberry, vanilla and cinnamon spice. Barrel selected from lots originating from the vineyards surrounding the winery, this single-vineyard blend has a light texture and flavors of pie cherry, vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate.
Aromatic with a slightly tart finish, this wine would perfectly pair with grilled duck prepared with a cherry reduction sauce.
About The Winery:
The estate wines of Balletto are born of the distinct soils and climates of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, and of the Balletto family’s passion for the land. We invite you to come “Taste the bounty that is Balletto”.
2001 was the first vintage for our winery. As grape growers first, we strongly feel that with good grapes comes good wine. It all starts in the field. Our grapes are handpicked and we use only French barrels from a variety of barrel makers. In addition, all of our wines go through malolactic fermentation. With the help of consulting wine maker Dan Cederquist, we feel we have produced an excellent representation of Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Russian River Zinfandel and Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris.
About The Vineyards:
Russian River Valley Vineyards: Balletto has four vineyards in the Russian River Valley from which we receive grapes to make wine. The main vineyard and the Winery are located at 5700 Occidental Road in Santa Rosa, California. We are just Southwest of another family owned and operated winery: Hanna Winery. The western edge of the vineyard is adjacent to the Laguna de Santa Rosa waterway, which is a major tributary to the Russian River. This vineyard is located in the Santa Rosa Plains area of the Russian River Valley and has 3 different clones of Chardonnay on 100 acres. We also grow 8 clones of Pinot Noir on 60 acres and we have 5 acres of Pinot Gris. We have three different soils types – Wright Loan Shallow, Clear Lake Clay and Blucher fine Sandy Loan. The majority of our fruit is sold to other wineries, but we feel fortunate to be in the unique position of a small winery with the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of clones grown on many different soils.
Another vineyard we have in the Russian River Valley is known as BCD Farms. This vineyard is a partnership and is located North of our winery site on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa. This is an area known to produce some outstanding Zinfandel grapes. BCD Farms is an 80 acre vineyard with gentle rolling hills. This vineyard produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
A recently acquired vineyard is a 65 acre vineyard on Piner Road in Santa Rosa – about 10 minutes North of the winery, which has sauvignon blanc and gewurztraminer varietals.
Sonoma Coast Vineyard Now in Russian River Valley Appellation: This Vineyard is the Balletto Family home ranch located in the hills of west Sebastopol. Other wineries with vineyards close by include Merry Edwards and Martinelli. The TTB recently approved a petition submitted by the Russian River Valley Grapegrowers to extend the boundries of the Russian River Valley appellation. This extended area includes our home ranch.
The home ranch is planted with 3 different clones of Chardonnay, 9 different clones of Pinot Noir and 2 clones of Pinot Gris. The soil type in this vineyard is Gold Ridge Loam. This vineyard is in a slightly cooler and more windy climate than our main ranch and winery site, requiring different vineyard management techniques, such as pruning for a later bud break for frost protection, and early leafing for better air flow around the grape clusters.
Harvest Dates: September 6 through September 28, 2007
Brix at Harvest: 24.9 to 25.8
Clones: 667, 32, 15
Vineyard: The Winery Block is comprised of several blocks of Pinot Noir vineyards that surround the winery on Occidental Road in Santa Rosa, CA
Soil: We have three different soil types on which our Occidental grapes are grown. They are Wright Loam Shallow, Clear Lake Clay and Blucher Fine Sandy Loam.
Other Information: This wine was barrel aged for 10 months in French oak, 30% of which was new.
Total Cases Produced: 300