2007 Carneros Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Viña del Sol, Dale Avenue
California: Sonoma County: Carneros
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Mission Codename: Familia
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Ceja Vineyards and secure an allocation of their exceptional 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir, an Operative favorite
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Ceja Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Armando Ceja
Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the Carneros viticultural area, a winegrowing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir which thrives here. Ceja Vineyards is a Wine Spies favorite and we are proud to bring you another successive vintage of their wonderful Carneros Pinot. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report to learn more about this fantastic wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Cherry red hues with perfect clarity through the darkening core. Color is dense and concentrated, all the way out to the fine pink edge that rings the glass. On swirling, medium-width, wine-stained tears begin high on the glass and meander slowly downward.
Smell – This wine leads with a earthy dark cherry note. This gives way to aromatic young strawberry, sweet wood, dried orange peel, tomato stem, India black tea, and a hint of gunpowder. After some swirling and sipping, additional aromas of red plum and soft spices emerge.
Feel – Cool and light on the attack, with a bright acidity. The wine becomes softly grippy on the mid-palate as fine tannins introduce a slowly spreading dryness. This soft dryness begins at the edges of the palate and spreads inward, eventually drying the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Earthy cherry, young strawberry, red rose petals and sweet woods sit atop subtler tomato vine, soft oak, dried black tea leaf, tender savory herbs and soft spice. At the end, slate and a hint of truffle join in as fruit flavors tail off.
Finish – Long and flavorful, with a crushed velvet feel that shows up at the tail end. As the fruit tapers off, soft truffle and slate complete the experience.
Conclusion – Once again, we are so pleased by another great Ceja Pinot Noir. Allow the wine time to open up, by decanting, and you will be rewarded with more authentic fruit and a Fuller, more elegant feel. Rich with flavor and expressive aromatics, this well-rounded wine is a fantastic example of Napa Carneros Pinot Noir. Complex and interesting enough to enjoy on its own, this wine was really built with food in mind. A perfect companion for nearly anything. We paired ours with corn crust pizza with generous tomato sauce, salty Kalamata olives and feta cheese. It was a perfect pairing, with the wine enhancing the meal and offering a tasty cleanse of the palate between bites.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Armando Ceja
WINE EDUCATION: My wine education started immediately upon my arrival here to the US from Mexico. I immigrated in 1967 with my family when I was seven years old. We settled in north Napa where I started working alongside my parents and siblings in the vineyards. Over the years I fell in love with the grape growing process and eventually decided I would make a career out of it. I worked at various wineries throughout high school and even had the chance to make my first barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon at the age of seventeen before I headed off to UC Davis where I received degrees in oenology and viticulture. I was on my way!
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: After college I worked for Kenwood Vineyards in both winemaking and vineyard management before joining the management team at the Christian Brothers winery on Mt. Veeder. After a few years at Christian Brothers I decided it was time to strike out on my own; I formed Vina Del Sol (Vines of the Sun), my own vineyard management company.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Grow the best fruit possible in the vineyards and let nature take its course in the cellar utilizing gentle wine-making techniques.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Wine is not a lifestyle, it represents life itself.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1998, Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir
AGENT RED: Greetings, Armando Ceja. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Thanks for spreading the Ceja love. Can I have a cool “Agent” name, too?
RED: We’ve already given you one, Agent Carneros! Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: Having been born into a seasonal farm-working family, I had no choice but to work in the vineyards of Napa as a child. During harvest I would follow the grapes to the winery, curious to see how the grapes would end up. That curiosity still leads me to the cellar today.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: I was fortunate to have Gino Zepponi of ZD Wines as mentor growing up.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: Mother Earth
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER: ou are featuring our signature 2007 Carneros Estate Pinot Noir from our Vina del Sol Vineyard, located in the heart of the Carneros appellation. We grow 15 acres of Pinot Noir made up of two clones: Dijon & Pommard. This wine is light in color and texture, feeling silky and tasting of cherry, currant & plum, with hints of loamy earth and rose petal on the polished finish. It’s one of my favorite vintages that I’ve ever produced.. enough said..
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: This wine pairs beautifully with so many types of dishes. Considering the nice weather that we’ve been having some of my favorite pairings involve grilling outside. Grilled chicken, grilled skirt steak and grilled vegetables paired with our Pinot Noir is a killer combo!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carneros region so special?
WINEMAKER: The proximity to the cool fog and breezes from the bay makes the climate in Los Carneros cooler and more moderate than the wine regions further north in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The cooler climate has made Carneros attractive for the cultivation of certain varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (two of our flagship varietals). I will always consider Carneros such a special appellation because it’s also the first acreage we acquired purchased in 1983.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: We’re finalizing 2009 Pinot Blends for the Estate Vineyard wines & blending our our 2010 red varietals to make our new red “Vino de Casa” blends. Let’s not forget tasting, and re-tasting all of the lots, that’s probably the most important aspect in the cellar right now.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: With a wine glass and corkscrew!
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 Winery Check:
The location of the Ceja Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Vina Del Sol vineyard and Ceja Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The aromas are fresh and floral with red plum, black cherry blossom and hibiscus scents. The palate showcases a savory medley of Jamaica tea, dried berry, herb and spice flavors. This wine is bright, crisp and balanced with soft tannins and layers of textures.
Vineyard Notes: Viña del Sol, Dale Avenue, Sonoma • Carneros
Production Notes: Fermentation: Open-topped, small vat, cold soaked, extended maceration, gentle punch downs.
About Ceja Vineyards:
Welcome to Ceja Vineyards. Each day as we gaze at the surrounding vineyards, we are reminded of the first Ceja vine. Planting our first vine together in rich Carneros soil was an exciting moment. That vine symbolized our bond as a family and strengthened our shared commitment to produce premium wines. We proudly continue a three-generation tradition of growing choice grapes in the beautiful Napa and Sonoma Valleys. We invite you to join us on our journey.
As you explore our website you’ll see, repeated often, a bell with the Latin inscription: vinum (wine), cantus (song), and amor (love). In Mexico, church bells ring to reveal the time, announce community celebrations or call parishioners to church. We have adopted the bell as our trademark, and symbolically ring it now to invite you to become a part of Ceja Vineyards.
Terroir, (pronounced tair wahr), is a French term and strictly translated refers to the earth. In the Carneros Region, the term is defined as a special set of conditions encompassing all the components that affect the grapes grown here. The soil’s chemistry and physical structure, the slope and orientation of the hills and valleys and the weather are all factors of terroir.
Located approximately 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, the Carneros Region’s moderate climate is created by fog, moist air, and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. Protected from harsh weather by the Coastal Range, Carneros summer days are warm with cool nights and winters are mild. As a result, grapes stay on the vine longer, reaching high acidity and full flavor development.
At Ceja Vineyards, we match vines to terroir, planting each variety where it grows best. Our wines are a true reflection of their origins.
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation: Carneros (Sonoma)
Harvest Date: 9/29/2007
Sugar: 24.7° at harvest
Aging: 23 months in French barrels