2008 Carneros Pinot Noir
California: Carneros - Los Carneros (Sonoma & Napa)
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Mission Codename: Me Encanto Esta Vina
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Track down winemaker Rudy Zuidema on and acquire his first Pinot Noir release.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Encanto Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Rudy Zuidema
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.
Today’s Carneros Pinot Noir is made by our good friend and rising star winemaker Rudy Zuidema who also makes wine for White Cottage Ranch has worked at some of Napa’s best wineries such as Robert Craig, Honig and St. Clement and also consults for several other wineries.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet in color with ruby streaks and a subtle violet tint that shows when poured into the glass. When swirled, tightly spaced and fast pin-thin legs ring the glass.
Smell – Fragrant aromas of black cherry and other red and black fruit blend with exotic spice, smokey oak and soft earthy notes. Hints of flowers, cocoa and anise also emerge giving this wine a lovely but approachable complexity.
Feel – Ultra smooth, this dry and medium-to-full bodied Pinot is expansive on the palate and has fine but sturdy tannins that are framed with lively acidity and textured minerality that grasps the fruit and lingers into the finish.
Taste – Ripe black cherry, red raspberry and some strawberry lead off with notes of toasted oak with toasted vanilla reflexes, exotic spice, sweet herb and soft earthy notes. The subtle anise and cocoa from the nose also make an appearance on the palate.
Finish – Very clean and medium in length with the spice and minerality lingering just longer than the bright ripe fruit and other flavors.
Conclusion – For an inaugural release, the 2008 Encanto Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir is a delicious example of why Carneros is one of the top regions for the varietal in California. A lovely nose, smooth and expansive on the palate and great fruit and other complex classic flavors all work in unison. For a youthful wine, it is drinking very well right now and should continue to develop for many years to come. A sturdier Pinot with good acidity, this wine will pair well with many creative kitchen creations and it was a big hit with diners at Pimento’s Restaurant in Exeter, NH where Agent White covertly enjoys great local New England food with an international flair.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Rudy Zuidema
WINE EDUCATION: BS Degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Patz and Hall, Robert Craig, Ehlers Estate, White Cottage Ranch, The GRADE.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I would like to act as a historian through wine. Showing what mother nature brings to each vintage and making sure the wine speaks clearly of it.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: It takes a lot of beer to make wine.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1996 Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
AGENT RED: Greetings, Rudy. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Encanto Vineyards Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RUDY ZUIDEMA: I am so happy to be featured on your site today. It is one of my favorite sites to keep up with the pulse of the industry.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RUDY: I will always remember the epiphany I had drinking the 1987 Jordan Cabernet. It was the first time the nuances and subtle flavors that my mentors were describing actually popped out for me.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RUDY: There are so many. Ben Riggs from Australia taught me about wine work integrity and how just “good enough” is absolutely not good enough. Auraujo wines to me are the most authentic that come out of Napa Valley. I want to my wines to be similar in how they taste like farming, not winemaking.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RUDY: I make wine that my wife and I can enjoy anytime, anyplace. My wines should go just as well with a friend and a sunset as they do with at five course dinner.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RUDY: This is my very first effort at making Pinot Noir. After 20 years of winemaking it finally happened. I took a pretty conservative approach to making this to make sure that the elegance, grace, and finesse that I love about Pinot Noir were present. I am very happy with the complexity of the aromas and the layers of spicy fruit. My proudest accomplishment of this wine is the refined balanced finish and its velvety texture.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RUDY: I just made a scallion and chanterelle mushroom risotto using some of Napa Style’s truffle salt and fresh Parmesan from the Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufactory here in St. Helena. I haven’t had that full of a belly in quite some time.
RED: In your opinion, what makes Carneros so special?
RUDY: Carneros is known for its heavy soils, cool nights and mild days allowing for harmonious ripening of delicate grape varieties. This particular vineyard is indeed very cool but with rocky well drained soils that brings out darker, deeper fruit and more crisp acid. The finish is soooooooo long.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RUDY: Spring has sprung so a am wearing my farming hat. The plentiful rainy season has made it very easy to open up the soils waking up the plants. I have been on a tractor for the last few days mowing the legume based cover crop down to decompose. We’ve also begun our first biodynamic tea application.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RUDY: With a sense of ease and confidence. I know not everyone will love this wine, but I am sure that many will. So keep putting it in your mouth if you like it, and go find something else if you don’t. Perhaps a beer??
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RUDY: Just to never get too set on the same wines from the same producers. There is so much out there to be discovered, the wine adventure never ends.
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!
RUDY: Always a pleasure fellas!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Encanto Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
A classic style Pinot Noir this wine comes from a rockier section of Carneros in the Napa Valley. Sourced from the Pommard clone this wine exhibits darker and earthier flavors of black cherry, licorice, truffle and earthy spice. Showcasing nice bright acidity the defining factor is the length of the silky finish.
The 2008 Encanto Pinot Noir comes from a very small vineyard in the warmer inland hills of Napa Valley’s Carneros region. The vineyard is planted with the Pommard clone of Pinot Noir which brings out the earthier tones of this variety.
The aromas are very complex and bold including dried cherries, sweet leather, and rose pedals. The mid-palate is rich, showing focused plum, black cherry, and fresh loamy earth flavors. Pure black raspberry, spice box, and pipe tobacco linger for quite some time remaining bright and firm. The structure is refined and velvety leaving the mouth wet with juicy berry notes.
About The Winery:
1/2 wisdom + 1/4 ambition + 1/4 action = Encanto Vineyards
Encanto Vineyards, or Enchanted Vineyards as the name translates from Spanish, is located in the Big Valley appellation of Lake County in Northern California.
“The wines of Encanto Vineyards are a tribute to the magic farm workers create with their labor in the fields. No machines could ever take the place of the songs, the jokes, and the human touch that goes into tending the vines. My Grandfather, Don Enrique Segura, settled in the Napa Valley in the 1950’s as one of the first Mexican American farm workers and vineyard managers. We consider him the great wizard of the vineyards and dedicate our wines to his memory. Salud!" – Enrique Lopez & Rosaura Segura. Proprietors
Encanto Vineyards were planted on gentle bench lands between Kelseyville and Lakeport in 2002 by owners Enrique Lopez and his wife, Rosaura Segura.
The first harvest was in 2005 producing lush fruity white wines with a crisp grassiness that one attributes to only the finest Sauvignon Blancs. Encanto Vineyards is now in their third vintage release.
Lake County was wine country for many years before Prohibition wiped it out. It reemerged again as wine county as pioneers in the 1960’s began seeking those areas that would reestablish the county as a source of premium grapes.
With time, winemakers have agreed that one of the best wines to come from the soils of Lake County is the Sauvignon Blanc.
Encanto Vineyards is proud to produce one of the newest and best Sauvignon Blancs to come from this popular appellation.
Enrique Lopez is the Managing Partner of Servin-Lopez Vineyard Management, and lavishes his most tender care on the Encanto Vines. Each of the Wines that comes from Encanto Vineyards is handcrafted and bottled in Napa Valley, California.
About The Winemaker:
Encanto Vineyards Master Winemaker, and current White Cottage Ranch Winemaker, Rudy Zuidema, is a graduate of the world renown University of California, Davis, Plant Science and Agricultural Management program. With over a decade and a half of experience in the wine industry, Rudy has established himself under the watchful eye of such greats as famed Australian winemaker Ben Riggs, winemaker Dennis Johns, and renowned winemaker, James Hall. He has worked for such respected wineries as St. Clement Vineyards, Cuvaison and Honig Vineyard, Robert Craig, Ehlers Estate Winery, and most recently as master of his own brand, Calix Wines
Appellation: Carneros, Napa Valley
Varietal (percentages): 100% Pinot Noir
Age of vines: Plantings from 1988
Viticultural Techniques: Sustainable
Aging: 17 months in French Oak Barrels; 25% New French Oak, 25% Two Year Old French Barrels, 50% Neutral French Oak Barrels
Acid: 5.9 g/L
Harvest date: 9/4/2008