Robert Stemmler Winery

2008 Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

California: Sonoma County: Carneros

Offer Expired:Jan 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Today’s selection from Robert Stemmler Winery is a delicious example of the great Pinot Noir from the Carneros region. If you love Pinot, then this wine is well worth a taste.


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Mission Codename: True Pioneer

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Robert Stemmler Winery, a Wine Spies Operative favorite, and acquire the newest release of their delicious Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Robert Stemmler Winery

Wine Subject: 2008 Carneros Estate Grown 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 and Pinot thrives here.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark ruby hued with perfect clarity. At its core, the wine shows as slightly darker, and out at the edges, a fine ring of pink encircles the glass. Swirl the wine, and witness chubby, wine-hued legs, that march slowly down the glass.

Smell – Lush and layered, with fragrant aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and black tea. These mingle with earthen dark minerals, soft sweetwoods, subtle green peppercorn and kola nut.

Feel – Soft and plush at first, then the wine has an initially grippy feel. Velvety tannins are supported by bright acidity and a soft, but subtle, peppercorn spice.

Taste – Dark and earthen, with medium intensity, this wine leads with earthy forest floor, dusky black cherry and black tea leaf. Dark plum, strawberry, gunpowder, dried fall leaves and spice round out the wonderful flavors.

Finish – Very long, leading with red fruit and quickly tailing off to a long-lived black tea, forest floor and black peppercorn spice. As these fade, a flinty minerality lingers on for a long time.

Conclusion – The *2008 Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir * is a fantastic – and I daresay better – follow up to the excellent 2007 vintage of this wine. The wine is every bit as inviting and accessible as the previous vintage, but this wine shows more complexity on the nose and on the palate. With a plush feel, and layers of deep flavor that are supported by the wine’s rich aromatics, this wine is an experience. We love Carneros Pinot Noir and this wine gives the region something to be very proud of. The wine is drinking beautifully now, and will continue to progress for the next several years.

Mission Report:


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 2008 Carneros Estate Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

KENNETH JUHASZ: Great to be here, Agent Red.

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?

KENNETH: Montrachet.

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: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

KENNETH: It is a scope of all the clones from the Donum Estate, each farmed and made separately, it is an expression of both the place and people that work there.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

KENNETH: Roasted Chicken

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?

KENNETH: Less in the winery, more in the vineyard, we are starting verasion, when the green grapes start to change red, and it is time to inspect crop levels and make final fruit thinning passes.

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 is always a pleasure to work 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 Robert Stemmler Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

This Pinot Noir offers many layers of beautiful ripe strawberry, raspberry and intense black cherry and plum aromas mingled with hints of cola, forest floor and earth.

FERMENTATION DETAILS: The fruit is hand-harvested, hand-sorted, entirely de-stemmed and moved to temperature-controlled, open-top stainless steel tanks by gravity flow. The must is cold-soaked for four to six days before fermentation. Fermentations are hot, between 92° and 96° F., and last five to nine days for maximum extraction. The cap is hand-plunged three to four times daily during fermentation, and upon completion, the wine is left for extended maceration from two to six days.

AGING AND BLENDING DETAILS: Free run wine is separated from press fractions to ensure that press wine will enhance the final blend. Wine goes directly to barrel to retain lees for aging. Each block is made and aged separately until the final blend is assembled in the spring and put back to barrel for five months to allow the components to marry. The blend represents every part of our estate and includes Dijon, Martini, Roederer, Calera, Hanzell and Swan selections.

WEATHER ATTRIBUTES: A dry winter gave way to a very cool spring with two major frosts, one late in March and the other a month later, that caused major damage in our vineyards. Our Russian River vineyard lost two-thirds of its crop to frost, while in Carneros we lost around 20%. Most of April was cool which added to the uneven shoot growth caused by the frost. Our vineyard team worked hard to even out what Mother Nature provided. A mid-May heat spike pushed the season into gear, and flowering happened rather quickly causing some shatter and small berries.

More heat spikes followed in June and July. Due to the small crop size, the vines managed these heat events well. August was cool but ended with another heat spike that stretched into early September — the beginning of harvest for most Pinot producers. We were able to wait through the heat in most of our blocks because our sugars were not as far along when higher temperatures hit. Sugars jumped, but not to the point of having to harvest. Cool temperatures followed which gave us some wonderful hang time.

Most of our fruit was harvested in late September and early October. Tasting these wines after a season from hell puts a smile on my face. You just never know. Cheers!

About The Winery:

Stemmler wines are handcrafted, limited releases of estate grown varietals. The mission of our dedicated vineyard and winemaking team is to produce world-class wines noteworthy in style and intensity. Located atop the first rolling hills in the Carneros region that rise up from San Pablo Bay, Ferguson Block lies less than a mile east of Donum Ranch. The oldest vineyard in The Donum Estate, it was planted in 1974 with an old Martini selection of Pinot Noir on St. George rootstock in gravelly, loamy clay soils.

History: Robert Stemmler is a pioneer, an early and passionate producer of outstanding California Pinot Noir. He is also a dear friend of the Racke family. And that is why our label bears his name.

Robert arrived in Napa Valley in 1961 after making wine for nearly a decade in his native Germany. He worked at the prestigious Charles Krug Winery with the Mondavi brothers, then became winemaker at historic Simi in Sonoma County. He also consulted for other prominent wineries like Inglenook, St. Clement and Raymond, and in 1976, founded his own winery in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. In 1982, having found a cool-climate Russian River Valley fruit source, he released his first Pinot Noir to great critical acclaim.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Anne Moller-Racke arrived from Germany in 1981 to work at their family’s Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros region. Anne was named vineyard manager in 1983, and she learned her craft from, among others, legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff. At the same time, Robert was mentoring young Pinot Noir producers like Davis Bynum and Gary Farrell.

Robert traveled widely, tirelessly promoting his Pinot Noir at tastings dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay producers, and he steadily developed his own following. It was in Aspen, Colorado, in 1984 that Marcus Moller-Racke introduced him to Anne and their friendship began.

In 1989, weary of travel, Robert retired from full-time winemaking after 35 years. His friends, the Rackes, purchased his label, maintaining it as a wine club and tasting room brand within Buena Vista.

By the late 1990’s, Anne was vice president of vineyard operations, managing a thousand acres of vines and replanting half of them. During the same period, Kenneth Juhasz honed his skills making Pinot Noir at Flynn Vineyards in Oregon.

When Buena Vista sold to Allied Domecq in 2001, the Racke family kept one jewel of a vineyard they called The Donum Estate, where Anne launched an “ultimate Pinot Noir” project to create wines of exquisite quality. With the addition of Ferguson Block and Nugent as estate vineyards, Robert Stemmler became Donum’s sister brand.

In 2002, Kenneth Juhasz joined a devoted team of professionals who share Robert Stemmler’s passion for Pinot Noir and who also enjoy his counsel during his periodic visits to talk and taste with them. Today, Stemmler wines are available at fine restaurants and retail shops in key markets throughout the United States.

Technical Analysis:

FRUIT: 100% Carneros estate grown Pinot Noir

HARVEST DATE: September 4 – October 3

PRODUCTION: 4409 cases

ALCOHOL: 14.4%

PH: 3.66

TOTAL ACIDITY: 0.62g/100ml

BARREL PROGRAM: French oak, 40% new (François Frères, Billon, Hermitage)

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