What We Say 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s 93-point selection from Donum Estate Winery is a delicious example of the great Pinot Noir from the Carneros region. If you love great Pinot, then this wine is well worth your attention.
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Mission Codename: The Prefect
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate The Donum Estate and acquire a small allotment of their delicious, 93-point, Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: The Dunum Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Kenneth Juhasz
Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the independent Carneros viticultural area, a wine growing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Originally designated in 1983, the region’s distinct Terroir and cool climate make it one of the best regions for the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The first grapes were planted here in the early 1800s by missionaries. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir, which thrives here.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Opaque antique pink, with a darker heart of strawberry hue. Swirl the wine and watch it settle quickly, leaving behind skinny legs that start slowly, then streak down the glass.
Smell – Lead by tart young strawberry and raspberry, then fresh forest floor, redwood bark, cherry, leather, smoky thanksgiving spices and subtlest green tobacco leaf.
Feel – Dry but plush and full up front, then round and creamy across the mid palate, where the wine settles in and shows off a medium weight, rich body and a high-note acidity.
Taste – Tart young strawberry with concentrated jammy fruit of cherry, blackberry, red currant, black currant and smoky cranberry. These are layered atop fresh forest floor, redwood bark, clove, red licorice and mineral salt.
Finish – Long in length with the tart back cherry, redwood and spice tailing off slowly.
Conclusion – This is a powerful wine that delivers boldness and big character, while illustrating the powerful influences that the Carneros Region and great winemaking have on Pinot Noir. Donum’s amazing Carneros Pinot Noir fruit is the paint which winemaker, Kenneth Juhasz, splashes across the canvas to create today’s Pinot masterpiece. Be sure to decant this wine for best results, as the introduction of some oxygen coaxes softer edges from the wine, delivering a more plush and more balanced drinking experience. Our tasting panel paired this wine with a variety of California gourmet foods, including chicken & waffles with fruit compote, heirloom tomato salad with vinegar and herbs, flatbreads and more. The wine paired beautifully with everything.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Kenneth Juhasz
WINE EDUCATION: Industry Learned
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Began working with Donum Estate in 2002, now consult with several California wineries and own Auteur
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Dualism, great structure while maintaining elegance
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Summer 2003 – 2002 Stemmler Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir
AGENT RED: Greetings, Kenneth, we are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Donum Estate Carneros Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
KENNETH JUHASZ: Thanks for having me back!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
KENNETH: No, it was a series of experiences in the restaurant business where I came to understand the beauty and lifestyle of wine and the culture around it.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RED: Who do you make wine for?
KENNETH: I make wine for the vineyard, I do everything or as little as possible to let the vineyard speak.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carneros region so special?
KENNETH: Not only its beauty, but the maritime feel of Southern Carneros; often you can taste the sea salt in the air and sometimes in the wine from the breezes that blow off San Pablo Bay.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
KENNETH: Do not expect all power, look for and enjoy finesse.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KENNETH: Thank you, it has been a pleasure working with you.
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 approximate location of the Donum Estate can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
The Donum Estate
Awards & Accolades:
93 Points – Wine Spectator
About This Wine:
Complex nose of ripe strawberries, leather, cherry liqueur, fresh split cedar, smoke, blackberries, sea salt and carbon. Rounded and broad mouth feel of seamless sweet black fruit, red currant and earth. This is a big pinot noir without being over the top.
Our sixth release of this wine is true to form, a dark and brooding Pinot Noir now unfolding its great depth and complexity.
The wine shows intense aromas of black plum compote, forest floor and a wisp of smoke through which a pure beam of ripe Bing cherry fruit emerges. On the palate, this wine is weighty but nimble and glossy in texture, and flavors of succulent black fruits and ripe strawberries abound against background hints of bark and earth. Although this Pinot Noir is dense and concentrated, bright acidity contributes to an elegant, long and refreshing finish.
FERMENTATION DETAILS: 95% destemmed. After destemming, grapes were cold soaked five days. Fermentation was native and achieved a temperature of 94ºF. Went to barrel “dirty” and aged on the lees into the spring of 2007. 75% new French oak.
WEATHER ATTRIBUTES: At the start of 2006, we experienced flooding with rainfall above normal continuing into the spring. This translated into vigorous shoot growth which had us pay more attention to canopy work during the season to ensure airflow. Flowering was delayed due to a cool and wet spring causing above normal cluster size. The surprise was the number of berries per cluster, which was 30% above normal, resulting in a larger crop.July gave us a week of brutally hot weather, which had no impact on the fruit because of the early stage of development, but the canopies were compromised which slowed ripening at the end of the season. August and September temperatures were below average, slowing ripening as well.
The interval from veraison to harvest was a lot longer, moving harvest into late September and even mid October, which is very unusual. We were quite aggressive during our green thinning with the goal of opening up the fruit zone and allowing better air circulation. Our job as vintners and growers is to bring out the best of that particular vintage. The challenging years are the ones we remember and 2006 was certainly one of those.
About The Winery:
The Donum Estate is both a place and a unique project.
In fact, it’s three places. Donum Ranch is a 200-acre property with 70 acres devoted to vines located on gently rolling hills that rise up from San Pablo Bay in Carneros. Less than a mile away is the venerable 20-acre Ferguson Block. And the 11 acres of Nugent Vineyards lie to the north in the Russian River Valley.
We farm all three vineyards, which provide superlative estate grown fruit for our “ultimate Pinot Noir project.” Based on a Burgundian grand cru model, this program’s goal is to produce the finest Pinot Noir possible.
Anne Moller-Racke – President and Winegrower – Anne Moller-Racke, our president and wine grower, has been caretaker of our Carneros vineyards for over 25 years and was at the forefront of the California viticultural revolution. She works closely with Lauro Servin, foreman, who has 24 years of experience growing grapes in Carneros. Kenneth Juhasz began his career in a cold cellar in Oregon and oversees all winemaking at The Donum Estate. The three share a goal: producing wines that are the purest possible expressions of site and vintage.
Kenneth Juhasz – Consulting Winemaker – Kenneth Juhasz (YOU haas) began his winemaking career dragging hoses in a cold cellar in Oregon. His interest in enology had grown as he worked his way through school in fine restaurants and the local wine shop in his native North Carolina. After college, Kenneth eagerly pursued his passion for Pinot Noir west to the Willamette Valley. There he began working with winemaker Ken Bernards, who became Kenneth’s mentor over the next few years.
When Juhasz came to Carneros in 2002, Bernards helped him to create and launch the "ultimate Pinot Noir project” at The Donum Estate and to develop a fresh identity for the Robert Stemmler label. Kenneth was appointed winemaker for both Donum and Robert Stemmler in 2005. Committed to working tirelessly through each harvest and to obtaining maximum quality in the vineyards with wine grower Anne Moller-Racke, Kenneth has succeeded in creating wines of power and elegance that are true expressions of site.
While enhancing his knowledge with forays to Oregon and the South Island of New Zealand, where he spearheaded a start-up Pinot Noir operation at Hinton Estate, Kenneth remains dedicated to producing outstanding wines from estate vineyards in the Carneros and Russian River Valley appellations. He also produces fine Burgundian varietal wines from Sonoma, Mendocino and Oregon’s Willamette Valley under his own label, Auteur.
FRUIT: 100% Carneros Pinot Noir
HARVEST DATE: September 13th and 19th, 2006
AGING: 11 months in Burgundian cooperage