2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Windsor Oaks Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
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Mission Codename: Reflections of Beauty
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Re-infiltrate Miro Cellars and acquire their newly released Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Miro Cellars
Wine Subject: 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Miro Tcholakov
The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the Russian River Valley ideal for growing Pinot Noir. 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.
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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby red with brighter ruby streaks though its clear core. Along the edges, this wine shows brighter ruby and garnet hues and when swirled, widely spaced slow chubby legs cling to the glass before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Bright and fresh aromas of red fruit including red cherry, strawberry and rip raspberry. Soft earthy aromas blend with black tea, exotic baking spice, vanilla toast and caramel.
Feel – Initially tangy and bright but softening and evolving quickly in the glass, this full-bodied wine is dry with youthful tannins, vibrant acidity and a touch of dusty minerality.
Taste – Rich and ripe flavors of red and black cherry blend with ripe strawberry and raspberry. The fruit is then layered over vanilla toast and spice notes making this wine both inviting and complex. A touch of earthy forest and black tea linger just a hint of smokey oak.
Finish – Plush and long with lingering red fruit notes giving way to the subtle complexity of toasted vanilla oak, earth, spice and dusty minerals.
Conclusion – The 2009 Miro Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is remarkably delicious for such a young wine! We cannot wait for this one to get a little development in the bottle as it is already showing great promise in its youth. Lovely complexity on the nose with great red fruit, a lively palate that is food friendly, great flavors and a long clean finish. What else would you want? We paired this with avocado ‘boats’ stuffed with aged Queso Manchego cheese cubes tossed in grape-seed oil, Celtic sea-salt, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh basil.
MIRO INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miro Tcholakov
DATE OF BIRTH: February 4, 1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Trojan, Bulgaria
WINE EDUCATION: Higher Institute of Agriculture, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, UC Davis, SRJC
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Dry Creek Vineyards-1990-1999 as Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master, Trentadue Winery-1999-present-Winemaker/VP of Production, Miro Cellars-2001-present. Also consulted and continue to consult for a few other small projects domestically and abroad. Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ZAP and “PS I Love you” organizations
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Freedom of Expression”- meaning for Miro wines I source only vineyards that are interesting to me in regard of geology, soil types, location, grape growing styles, grape grower…etc. Not being confined to an “Estate” vineyard gives me the freedom of choice. If the vineyard does not deliver I move on. Great wines can be made without blue blooded heritage and a Chateau in the foreground.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: So far I made my mark with Petite sirah for the Miro brand, with my other jobs I have done very well with other varieties and blends. In general I’m very fond of perhaps the only two varieties that California has claim to fame as truly “heritage” –Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. But, I am so pleased with my inaugural Pinot Noir! It turned out beautifully.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Well I’m not sure what do you consider Highlight but if you mean wine scores I have a few 90 points and above from Wine Enthusiast, Parker, Wine Spectator, Connoisseur Guide, California Grapevine, top picks in New York Times, USA Today, and hundreds of Gold medals and Best of Class and a few Sweepstakes from wine competitions that matter.
I have met and tasted my wines one on one with Michelle Rolland (without paying for it) if that is considered an event but I found that to be very interesting. I have been on the pages of few wine publications. Once Dan Burger put me on the top 20 winemakers in the country…
There is probably more that I don’t remember…
MIRO QUOTE: Just drink it-it is only wine!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Miro. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIRO TCHOLAKOV: A pleasure!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIRO: I don’t think that there was any specific event-wine has always been part of our life back in Bulgaria. We made every year about 1000 liters and manage to drink most of it before the next harvest. Wine has always been part of the life circle, just like making cheese or jam or tomato sauces. We also made grappa every year. My grandfather Mariano was the initial inspiration and the first hand source of winemaking knowledge.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
MIRO: The real winemaking I learned during my first years at Dry Creek. I’m not done with the learning by any means yet. Back in Bulgaria we made the wine in the most pure way possible. We rarely used even sulfur! No additives and none of the modern gadgets-just grapes and barrels.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
MIRO: Don’t play with the wine just because you know how. Only intervene when you absolutely have to and you are sure of the outcome. Always pay attention to the details all the time. Everything you do to the wine-matters!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIRO: Well I don’t think there is just one person-it is more of a collective of people and styles. I do not believe that I have a particular style per say-I just try to get out of the grapes the most from every vintage-and that would be different every year.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
MIRO: Legally? Commercially –this harvest was my number 20!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIRO: I guess I can say that first I want to be satisfied with the wines I make and of course it will be great if a lot of people including media like them as well. Otherwise I’ll have a lot of wine to drink by myself…
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
MIRO: As you know Pinot is very sensitive to the terroir. At cooler climate it may develop kind of a cola aromas that I’m not too excited about, also it can be very light and overly acidic and that is not my stile. Some clones can be so dark that resemble more Syrah than Pinot… So I wanted to make wine that is varietally correct, fruity but with some weight and balance that makes it easy to drink and enjoy young, so a bit warmer side of the valley is needed for that kind of style. The wine is an equal blend of three clones-each contributing its own character that works great in a blend. The grapes were harvested at perfect time-no additions or “corrections” were needed.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
MIRO: You have to love the job. If you are in it just 8 to 5 don’t even think about it. If the love and passion are not there you will be just a booze maker. Also you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and long days and hours away from the family.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIRO: Bottling and more bottling and all the “fun” things involved with it. Also I have a lot of business traveling coming up soon.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
MIRO: The wine is my 2009 Pinot Noir and it is the first Pinot under Miro label. As you may know it is hard to find good vineyards that produce excellent Pinot at reasonable price from Russian River Valley. This one is from Windsor Oaks Vineyard, located on the relatively warmer hills above the valley. The vineyard was meticulously farmed with a lot of attention to details that is absolute a must for Pinot. I did not want to make wine that looks and taste like anything else but Pinot-so this is a varietaly correct wine but with a very lush and viscous mouthfeel, without being heavy and tanic. Also there is the right amount of new oak that is there but you can taste and smell the fruit. It is delicate wine (for a Petite Sirah and Zin maker!) but it does have a lot of character and it is very enjoyable.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIRO: Lets see… This Pinot is very forgiving as far as food pairing. I’m a fish lover-so anything that is not deep fried will taste great-specially tuna and salmon. Recently I had the wine with grilled sword fish lightly brushed with olive oil and a few leaves of rosemary, oven roasted young red potatoes and beets with onions, garlic and black olives-and that was it-almost finished the entire bottle!
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
MIRO: I wanted to be a MD back in Bulgaria but my girlfriend talked me out of it
RED: Thank goodness for us fans of your wines! What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
MIRO: Rhone wines for sure. I even make one for a winemaker called Cuvee Sasha a GSM-simply delicious without all the pretence.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
MIRO: Think of them as $100 bottle of wines and you will not be disappointed. I hate the cliché but they are “affordable luxury”
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
MIRO: I would like to try again the 1927 Château D’yquem
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
MIRO: Have I been connected to KGB? The answer is –perhaps!
RED: Our intel reports were correct, then! Thank you so much for your time, Miro. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
MIRO: Thank you! Wine Spies days are always very exciting around here. Your customers are well-informed – and they know good wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Miro Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2009 Miro Pinot Noir has medium red color with slight garnet hue. The first impression is of cherry compote, slightly plumy, ripe strawberry and a hint of rhubarb pie. With further aeration the wine shows slight nuances of new oak barrels—vanilla and toast and a hint of forest floor and earthiness. The mouthfeel starts out soft and rich and finishes with balanced acidity and soft tannin. The wine is still very young at the time of these notes and it will develop nicely with 2 – 4 years of aging.
Winemaking: 2009 harvest was a bit challenging with early rain in the middle of harvest. Luckily the Pinot Noir ripened earlier than the rest of the varieties and was all harvested before the rain. The season was relatively cool overall resulting in brighter fruit aromas and more elegant wines in general. The 4 tons of Pinot grapes were equally divided among three clones: 667, 777 and 115. The idea is to bring together the different nuances that each clone has to offer. The grapes were picked on September 4th of 2009 and chilled on the vineyard with dry ice. At the winery the fruit was gently destemmed only and after a few days of “cold” soak fermentation in an open top tank using only native yeast. After the fermentation, the free run wine was collected into barrels directly and aged for about 11 months. During the aging the lees on the bottom of the barrels was frequently stirred with the intention to make the wine with richer and fuller mouth feel. During the life of this wine before bottling all procedures were done with one major consideration: to use a very gentle, hands-off approach to preserve and elevate the delicate Pinot aromas.
About The Winery:
MIRO Cellars searches the region for the best grapes from a variety of vineyards to make their one-of-a-kind specialty wines. Award winning winemaker Miro Tcholakov considers the particular geology and seasonal climate variations of each vineyard when selecting the most interesting grapes the region has to offer. Because Miro has complete freedom to make precisely the wines he loves best, the results are a spectacular leap above the expected. Let yourself in on one of the best kept secrets in wine today — MIRO.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Harvest Date: September 4th, 2009
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Barrel aging: 18 months in French oak barrels
TA: 0.561g/100 ml
Production: 290 cases