What We Say 2008 Windsor Oaks Vineyard Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: The heart of the matter
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to our old friends at Kokomo wines, where rumors are swirling about a soon-to-be-released single vineyard Pinot Noir. Find a way to secure a limited number of cases for our Operatives – before the wine is released to the public
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Kokomo Wines
Wine Subject: 2008 Pinot Noir Windsor Oaks Vineyards – Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Erik Miller
The grapes for today’s wine comes from the famous Windsor Oaks Vineyards, in Sonoma County’s Chalk Hill appellation. The Chalk Hill AVA (American Viticultural Appellation) is technically a sup-appellation of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley AVA. Most of the vineyards in the Chalk Hill AVA are located on the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, near the town of Windsor. Vineyards here, which are host to a wide range of grape varietals, are characterized by their volcanic soils that have a chalky appearance. Read Agent Red’s review of today’s wine, followed by his winemaker interview, below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful Ruby red, with perfect clarity through the slightly darker heart of the wine. The edge of the wine shows a soft pink. After swirling, tears take forever to emerge, before running slowly down the glass.
Smell – Baked cherry tart, with vanilla and soft baking spice takes the lead. Red raspberry, young strawberry and a hint of cranberry follow easily behind. These fresh and fruity aromatics sit atop a soft earthiness, subtle fresh sage and just a hint of cedar.
Feel – Soft and light-weight at the tip of the tongue, then firm tannins add a mineral dryness that begins at the back of the palate and works it way forward, slowly drying the entire mouth and puckering the lips.
Taste – Led by sweet red cherry, this wine also shows off bright raspberry, tart young strawberry and sweet cranberry. Soft earth and a hint of fall leaves lead to soft a slate-mineral taste at the end.
Finish – This wine starts sweet and then goes slightly tart – which makes the mouth water, as flavors tail off slowly. At the very end, flavors of dried leaves and slate persist.
Conclusion – Finally, a 2008 Pinot Noir that tastes ready to drink! This bright wine does show some youthfulness, but the fruit really pops, delivering a delicious and mouthwatering experience. Certainly a fruit-driven Pinot Noir, this wine will please fans of brightly crafted wines that present plenty of authentic mixed red berry characteristic. The bright fruit is supported by softly earthen qualities that give the wine a more balanced feel. We paired our review bottles with a homemade spicy corn chowder soup. The pairing was perfect.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Erik Miller
WINE EDUCATION: See Bio (attached)
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: See Bio (attached)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Keep my thumbprint off the wines as much as possible and let the vineyard show through. Terrior is what makes the wine unique and I believe it is the winemakers job to ensure it is not lost in the winemaking process.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: (DATE) 2005
AGENT RED: Greetings, Erik. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Windsor Oaks Vineyard Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ERIK MILLER: We are excited to be second covert mission and thank you for your continued support.
RED: It is our pleasure. We really love your wines. Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ERIK: Working my first harvest and experiencing fermentation!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ERIK: My neighbors’ Pinots. Papapietro Perry definitely inspired me to embrace California Pinot. Delicious!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ERIK: We make wine for food, but it is important that the wine can be enjoyed on its own.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ERIK: It is a blend of four different clones of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. A great food wine and a true expression of the Russian River Valley.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ERIK: Pork tenderloin with a Pinot Noir sauce.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Chalk Hill AVA so special?
ERIK: The coastal influence. Cool nights, coastal fog, and soil with a distinct minerality. Truly one of the standout appellations in all of California.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ERIK: Getting ready for harvest. Sampling vineyards and sanitizing, sanitizing, sanitizing.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ERIK: As a beverage! I want people to take their time to find the subtleties and complexities, but not be pretentious about wine.
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 Windsor Oaks Vineyards and Winery in the Chalk Hill AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This Russian River Pinot Noir is a blend of five different clones, each of which adds to the elegance, balance and complexity. Using traditional Burgundian methods, this wine was fermented using 25% whole cluster and a native Burgundian yeast. The nose has hints of earth, sage, cherry and spice with a noted minerality. Juicy cranberry and Bing cherry on the palate finishes with great acidity.
About The Vineyard:
This 700 acre vineyard is on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley. Due to its expansive acreage and highly diverse topography, 250 acres were carefully selected for growing premium wine grapes. Our pinot noir comes from two different blocks on the property. All of our clones were blanked by the early morning coastal fog and bask in the warm afternoon sun.
About The Winery:
Started in 2004 with the production of a single vineyard Cabernet from Mounts Vineyard, Kokomo Winery focuses on both Dry Creek & Russian River Valley fruit, with an emphasis on single vineyard wines that show a distinct terroir. We believe that our small production techniques and relationships with growers allow us to make wines that are individual and unique as the vineyards they were born from. We think you should drink local and think global and we are proud to support causes we believe in located in Sonoma County, like the annual Harmony Festival, Art for Life, KRCB, Food for Thought and the annual Mayacama Celebrity Golf Tournament, just to name a few.
In January 2008, we celebrated the opening of our brand new winery at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley. Visitors to our winery will enjoy a unique wine tasting experience, where we have incorporated the tasting room into our cellar. We are located on a beautiful 130 acre vineyard on the Dry Creek Bench, and our estate fruit consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.
Erik Miller, a Kokomo native, has always had a westward dream to make wines. After graduating from Purdue University in 1999, he set his sights on Sonoma County in order to pursue his dreams. “I traded in the soybeans and cornfields for the brighter skies, rolling hills and vineyards” Miller said. “With my Midwesten values, I approached the new territory with a promise to always treat the farmers and business the same – with respect.”
Erik had his first opportunity to make an impression as a wine professional while working crush at Belvedere Winery in the Russian River Valley. Starting at ground level as a cellar worker, there was an immediate connection to the industry. After working that first harvest, Miller decided to enroll at U.C. Davis to study enology and learn from the best in the field. During the time he was attending classes, he met Rick Hutchinson, owner and winemaker of Amphora Winery, and was offered a full-time cellar worker position.
While handling his duties in the cellar, Miller started Kokomo Winery with a 2004 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Mounts Vineyard. In naming his new creation, the winemaker decided to pay tribute to his Indiana hometown. In 2005, while still sharing space with Amphora, Miller brought on his best friend and college roommate, Josh Bartels, for help with the new winery’s second vintage. With Bartels on board, the two upped production and increased the product line. After the 2006 harvest, Kokomo Winery moved into its own facility at Timber Crest Farms in Dry Creek Valley.
Josh Bartels (a Carmel, Indiana native) first met Erik Miller while studying at Purdue University. The two ended up being roommates while there and graduated a year apart with the same degree. It was during these formative years in academia that Bartels started developing a palate for the “finer tastes” in life. While experimenting with different business ventures, he worked part-time at a local wine shop in Indianapolis and his passion and knowledge of fine wines began to bloom.
Josh got a call from California one summer day in 2005 – it was his best buddy Erik. Miller wanted him to come to Sonoma County to work harvest with him at Amphora Winery. This incredible opportunity to work in a boutique winery could not be passed up. Josh was immediately bitten by the “wine bug” and Erik was persistent in wanting Bartels to move to Sonoma County to join him in creating incredible wines. All Josh had to do was to convince his wife to relocate. Needless to say, he succeeded. Josh absorbed as much knowledge as possible from the ground-up while working hand in hand with fellow “cellar dogs” Rick and Erik. When Kokomo Winery moved into their own facility, after the 2006 harvest, Bartels and Miller put all of their focus into creating ultra-premium wines.
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir, Clones 114/777/667/459/828
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Produced: 900 cases
Harvest: October 9, 2008
Fermentation: Fermented in one ton open top fermenters
Barrel Aging: 100% French oak, 30% new