2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •MacDougall Ranch, Castaldi, DeMeo
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Coast
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The perfect pairing
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Chronicle Wines, and secure the final cases of their softly elegant Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, for our exacting Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chronicle Wines
Wine Subject: 2006 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
Winemaker: Ted Lemon
The pairing of Chronicle proprietor, Mike Hengehold with master winemaker, Ted Lemon, is a potent one. By releasing limited quantities of spectacular wines, Mike is fulfilling his commitment to releasing wines that reflect the true terroir of select wine growing regions along California’s North Coast. Ted Lemon is a recognized as a modern master of Pinot Noir, both in California, and in France, where he received a great deal of his winemaking experience.
The Sonoma Coast AVA is the 750 square mile area with the Pacific ocean on its western boundary, the San Pablo Bay to the south and Mendocino County to the north, headed inland to the other designated AVAs in Sonoma County. The region is heavily influenced by the cooler ocean climate, increased rainfall and fog that lingers long on the coastal mountains. The specific climate suits the demanding Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay very well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Perfect ruby hues with perfectly even color, from the clear red core of the wine, right out to the edge of the glass. The wine has a softly weighty look when swirled. The wine bounces around in the glass and then settles quickly. Several second later, small tears appear high up on the wall of the glass. They hang there for a moment and then, in unique fashion, begin to move slowly down the glass.
Smell – Lush and very full on the nose, with young strawberry, Bing cherry and soft cranberry are the first to greet you. These are followed by soft spice, subtle cedar and a hint of gunpowder.
Feel – Ultra-soft on the tip of the tongue and across the mid-palate. After a moment, the wine seems to gain some weight, settling on the mid and back palates, where it coats the mouth. Soft tannins add a gentle and very gradual spreading dryness. After the wine breaths for some time, a slight spiciness emerges at the rear palate, with a softly warm intensity that adds character.
Taste – Delicious and flavorful, with Bing cherry, strawberry and cassis, balanced with dried violets, earthen black cherry, soft spice and a hint of black tea. Flavors seems to increase after you swallow a sip.
Finish – Long and bright, with flavors that start with bright cherry and transmute to darker and more earthen, with a slate minerality and very mild spice.
Conclusion – This is one elegant Pinot Noir! Super soft and velvet-smooth, as soon as this wine hit your tongue, you feel your palate relax – and your senses open up. The soft feel carries soft flavors that grow in intensity, even after your sip is gone from your mouth. Aromatics are true Sonoma Coast, with bright fruit that is tempered against a soft earthiness. The gunpowder aroma is one that I always take delight in. With its bright acidity, this Pinot makes for an easy companion to most foods. I had mine with a wild mushroom risotto with freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano, which was absolutely perfect. Drinking beautifully right now, we recommend that you buy enough bottles to last you through the year.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mike Hengehold, Owner, Chronicle Wines
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Be Patient
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: March 2008
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mike. We are thrilled to be showing your *2006 Chronicle One Hundred Year Old Vines Zinfandel * today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIKE HANGEGOLD: Thanks, Agent Red. It is our pleasure to showcase our Zinfandel with you, today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIKE: Living in Europe for six months while I was in college, and immersing myself in all of the fascinating and varied cultures of food and wine across Europe. It was an absolute blitz of the senses!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIKE: Ted Lemon of Littorai.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIKE: Foodies and wine geeks!
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MIKE: The Sonoma Coast has been getting a lot of attention lately, as one of the trendiest and most desirable regions for cool-climate Pinot Noir. The 2006 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is sourced primarily from McDougall Ranch, located on a ridge 3.4 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, northwest of the town of Cazadero. 2006 provided the ideal conditions in this area for crafting a balanced, elegant, and altogether harmonious Pinot Noir. Those who appreciate Pinot from the North Coast have been seeking out wines from 2006, as among the best in recent memory.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIKE: There are so many great options with this wine – I particularly like it with grilled salmon over spinach, and with wild Chanterelles sautéed in butter.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sonoma Coast so special?
MIKE: The Sonoma Coast terroir is so distinct – the cool temperatures and long growing season are ideal, and I am fond of the flavor juxtaposition of the traditional red fruits, bing cherry with rugged qualities of forest floor and sandalwood.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIKE: We are nurturing the 2010 Pinots along while waiting patiently for the release of the 09’s this fall.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MIKE: Recognize that they are cool climate wines, featuring good natural acidity and balance to complement a variety of cuisine. These wines are best enjoyed over a meal.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
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 WINERY can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
At Chronicle, our mantra is “elegance and finesse over brawn”. We believe in picking grapes while they still have sufficient natural acidity and brightness to pair well with all kinds of foods. Our wines express their terroir through careful small-lot selection, limited yields, and a non-interventionist approach in the winery.
The 2006 Sonoma Coast is a wonderful example of this approach, and marks our first release of this wine. It is a blend of three vineyards: McDougall Ranch, DeMeo and Castaldi. McDougall is located northwest of the town of Cazadero on the second ridge inland from the Pacific Ocean. It looks south across the valley towards Hirsch, Martinelli, Flowers and Marcassin vineyards, so this is obviously a fine area for Pinot Noir. As one might expect, McDougall produces wines with the characteristic spice and tannic backbone for which many of its neighbor vineyards are famous. DeMeo and Castaldi are located much further inland in the Olivet Road area, the heart of the Russian River basin. Despite being farther from the coast, the Russian River plain is famous for its fog intrusion during summertime, so these vineyards were actually picked later than McDougall. They produce fleshier and more fruit driven wines than McDougall.
During barrel aging, we had great fun working on the blend from these three sites. Each has its charms and brought something different to the assemblage. In our final blend McDougall brings structure, Castaldi brings fruit forward tones and DeMeo brings mid-palate richness. The final blend was 52% McDougall Ranch, 35% DeMeo, and 13% Castaldi. The wine was bottled after 11 months in oak with no fining or filtration.
The Sonoma Coast shows spice, floral and sandalwood notes, with pronounced alpine strawberry and bing cherry. The attack is sweet, with plenty of structure and well-integrated tannins. The wine is fresh with moderate weight. A soft, velvety mid-palate gradually gives way to a long and lively finish.
About The Winery:
The Chronicle journey began in 2006, with the dedication to producing small lot, terroir-based Pinot Noir from California’s North Coast ‒ Sonoma and Anderson Valley appellations.
Production quantities of Chronicle wines are inherently limited. I am delighted to share Chronicle with you, and hope you’ll appreciate the exceptional quality and value the wines represent. Thank you for your support!
VINEYARD SOURCES: MacDougall Ranch – Clone 114, Castaldi – Clone 777, DeMeo – Pommard
WINEMAKING: Ted Lemon
FERMENTATION: 100% native, 5-day cold soak in small open top fermenter, punched down 2-3 times per day
BARREL AGING: Only free run juice goes direct to barrel, aged 10 months in French Oak (60% new) from François Frères, Damy, Remond and Cadus, aged on malolactic lees with minimal racking prior to bottling
BOTTLED: 495 cases