What We Say 2009 BCD Vineyard Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: ABC? No, BCD!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our friends at Balletto Vineyards to acquire their stellar single vineyard BDC Vineyard Pinot Noir, from a very limited production of just 12 barrels.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Balletto Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2009 BCD Vineyard Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Anthony Beckman
Backgrounder: 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.
Today’s wine hails from Balletto’s BCD Vineyard, which sprang from a partnership between the Russian River Pinot princes of Balletto, Carleson and DeLoach. The finest grapes from this vineyard were selected, and just 12 barrels of Pinot were produced. This limited production Pinot Noir is the best we have tasted from Balletto, to date.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful light ruby hues, with perfectly concentrated color – from core to the edge of the glass. If you give the wine a good swirl, the wine takes on a lighter and more pinkish color. After the wine settles, slow legs meander down the glass.
Smell – A bright red rush of mixed flowers is the first to greet the nose. These are quickly joined by Bing cherry, black cherry and red raspberry. These are followed by earthy spice notes, exotic sweet woods and blackberry bramble.
Feel – Smooth and round on entry, the wine has a soft and very wet initial feel. After a few moments, fine tannins gradually add texture and complexity on the palate. A soft, flinty mineral dryness spreads from the center of the palate, outward, where it eventually drys the tongue, lips and cheeks.
Taste – Complex and rich, the wine starts with dark cherry, cranberry and young strawberry. After a moment, the wine reveals more of an earthy character, with bramble, dried black tea leaves, exotic spice and soft cedar.
Finish – Long and evolving, the flavors begin sweet and juicy, then go darker, more acidic and more dry as a exotic spice and exotic woods are revealed. These eventually tail off, leaving the palate with a dry, mineral feel.
Conclusion – The 2009 Balletto Vineyards BDC Vineyard Pinot Noir is our favorite Balletto Pinot to date! This limited production wine is made from the finest lots of the finest Balletto vineyard. We loved the perfectly concentrated color of the wine, but it was the flavors and aromas that really did us in. Of course, the intriguing feel and long finish helped, too. This is a complex wine that take a little time to reveal itself fully. Perhaps this is due to its relative youth. The wine begins soft and fine, then flavors evolve on the palate. The feel also evolves, starting off soft but then increasing in complexity. Pair this fantastic wine with – well – almost anything! We enjoyed ours with a tray of dried and fresh fruits, meats and mixed cheeses. The wine is, of course, perfect all on its own.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Anthony Beckman
WINE EDUCATION: 3 years as the wine buyer for Taylor’s Market in Sacramento, CA. Bachelors of Science in Viticulture and Enology University of California-Davis
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Grow it on the vines, and do as little as possible in the winery.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2001
AGENT RED: Greetings, Anthony. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Winery Block Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ANTHONY: It’s a pleasure to be here with everyone.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ANTHONY: When I was12 or 13, I went to dinner with my parents in Santa Fe, New Mexico at a place called Julian’s, and they served a duck breast with a fresh blueberry reduction sauce. That first bite changed my life. It was the first time that food gave me such a strong emotional and physical response. I was in heaven. To this day, I have a vivid memory of those flavors, how well they fit together and – most importantly – the incredible feeling they gave me. After that, I started searching for foods that would re-create that first food-related emotional experience, and of course came across fine wine in the process, and…well, everything changed when that happened and there really was no turning back from a career that involved wine. It became too much a part of my daily life to not dive in and become a part of it.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ANTHONY: As a young winemaker, there certainly are some giants in the winemaking world that I look up to, and they all share the same qualities in their winemaking. In general, their wines are balanced, and beautiful, with an elegant texture, a healthy dose of acidity and lots of complexity. Wines that make you think about the flavors and layers instead of being beaten over the head with them. Regardless of the variety, if a wine has all those things, I’m going to like it. And, it’s really what I am trying to do with all the wines I’m making for Balletto Vineyards.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ANTHONY: I feel that winemaking is 95 percent artistic expression, and – like a painter or sculptor or poet – the end product needs to be displayed and shared so that someone across the world can open a bottle and get that awesome spark of enjoyment from a wine that I’ve made. Without that wine-loving consumer, winemaking wouldn’t be nearly as fun or fulfilling.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ANTHONY: Today you are showing our 2009 BCD Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is a special wine as it’s the first time we have bottled this vineyard on its own. In prior years, the barrels from this vineyard were blended into our Russian River Valley bottling, but after three years of being one of our favorite Pinots we decided that it should be show off on its own. What a great decision. This bright, ruby colored wine has upfront aromas of cooking spices, nutmeg and forest floor. It has a dark and candied black cherry core and a touch of cola to round it out. After decanting or sitting open, a pretty violet floral aroma appears. In the mouth, it’s true to its cool-climate origin and shows ample tartness with cranberry and rhubarb flavors that compliment its cherry core. The texture has a velvety viscosity, noticeable tannins and astringency, both of which will mellow out and integrate during the next five years of bottle aging.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ANTHONY: This is the most lush of the four different Pinots we make, so I tend to pair it with food accordingly. Simple grilled loin of lamb with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence is one of my favorites with this wine. The lavender in the herbes de Provence highlights the subtle floral aromas in the wine and the rich lamb flavors seems to linger with every sip. It’s one of those great pairings that enhances both the meal and the wine.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
ANTHONY: The Russian River Valley – especially where we’re located in the cool southern tip of it – is one of those perfect places to grow wine grapes. In the morning, we’re drenched with cold fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean. By mid morning, the sun will be shining and we’ll gain 30 or more degrees in a few hours. By early evening the fog will roll back in and cool things down again. Because of this weather pattern, we’re able to get ripe flavors at lower alcohols and still maintain the grapes’ natural acidity.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ANTHONY: This is one of the best times in the cellar. We have just completed all the blending for the 2010 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zin and Syrah. The past six weeks have been packed with tasting after tasting as we narrowed down the blends into what will become the final 2010 bottled wines, and I must say that I am incredibly pleased with how the 2010 wines have shown. It was a hard and rough harvest with cool summer temperatures and early rains, but the wines are showing beautifully and I couldn’t be happier about the quality.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
ANTHONY: In general, I’m a true believer in the axiom ‘Drink what you like, and like what you drink.’ Because we’re dealing with individuals and their personal tastes, there is no universally excellent wine. It doesn’t matter if it’s cheap, expensive, critically acclaimed or critically panned. If you like it and it gives you enjoyment, then it’s excellent. The person sitting next to you might disagree, and that’s what makes it entertaining. If we all liked the same things, the wine world certainly would be a boring place.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
ANTHONY: We’ve just started our Balletto Vineyards Facebook page and it’s a cool way to keep track of everything we’re doing throughout the growing season.
RED: I’ll tell people to check it out. 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 location of the Balletto Vineyards winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
For our single vineyard Pinot Noirs, we strive to showcase how each individual site creates distinct and dramatic wines. This bright, ruby colored wine has upfront aromas of cooking spices, nutmeg and forest floor. It has a dark and candied black cherry core and a touch of cola to round it out. After decanting or sitting open, a pretty violet floral aroma appears. In the mouth, its true to its cool-climate origin and shows ample tartness with cranberry and rhubarb flavors that compliment its cherry core.
The texture has a velvety viscosity and noticeable tannins and astringency, both of which will mellow out and integrate during the next five years of bottle aging.
Vineyard: Our 10-year-old BCD vineyard (named after the original partnership of Balletto, Carleson and DeLoach) is located on rolling hills that lead up to the Coastal mountain range. Cold fog flows in from the nearby Pacific Ocean in the late evening and covers the vineyard until midmorning. During the growing season, its possible to have a 40 degree daily temperature swing from early-morning lows to peak afternoon highs after the fog burns away.In addition to Mother Nature, the soils here are the ideal combination of sand from the mountain ranges and clays from the lower river valley. This particular sandy-loam soil composition holds just enough water to ripen our grapes, yet drains enough to keep the roots actively seeking water.
Its this mixture of climate and soil that allows the fruit to ripen at a slow-but-steady pace that develops the unique character of this wine. At Balletto Vineyards we farm more than 500 acres of wine grapes in the Russian River Valley and select the top 10 percent of these grapes to ferment and bottle under the Balletto label. Its one of the many ways we maintain the high quality of our wines. We hope you enjoy drinking these wines as much as we have enjoyed growing and making them. Cheers!
Winemaking Notes: We’ve been making (and been wildly impressed with) Pinot Noir from BCD Vineyard for the last three vintages. In 2009, the wine quality was the best yet and we decided it was time for the vineyard to stand on its own. Instead of being blended into our Russian River blend, 12 barrels were held aside and bottled on their own. As our first release of BCD Pinot Noir we couldn’t be more pleased. This is one of our more bold bottlings with ample tannins and structure. It will age and improve during the next 5 years.
About The Winery:
The estate wines of Balletto are born of the distinct soils and climates of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, and of the Balletto family’s passion for the land. We invite you to come “Taste the bounty that is Balletto”.
2001 was the first vintage for our winery. As grape growers first, we strongly feel that with good grapes comes good wine. It all starts in the field. Our grapes are handpicked and we use only French barrels from a variety of barrel makers. In addition, all of our wines go through malolactic fermentation. With the help of consulting wine maker Dan Cederquist, we feel we have produced an excellent representation of Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Russian River Zinfandel and Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris.
About The Vineyards:
Russian River Valley Vineyards: Balletto has four vineyards in the Russian River Valley from which we receive grapes to make wine. The main vineyard and the Winery are located at 5700 Occidental Road in Santa Rosa, California. We are just Southwest of another family owned and operated winery: Hanna Winery. The western edge of the vineyard is adjacent to the Laguna de Santa Rosa waterway, which is a major tributary to the Russian River. This vineyard is located in the Santa Rosa Plains area of the Russian River Valley and has 3 different clones of Chardonnay on 100 acres. We also grow 8 clones of Pinot Noir on 60 acres and we have 5 acres of Pinot Gris. We have three different soils types – Wright Loan Shallow, Clear Lake Clay and Blucher fine Sandy Loan. The majority of our fruit is sold to other wineries, but we feel fortunate to be in the unique position of a small winery with the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of clones grown on many different soils.
Another vineyard we have in the Russian River Valley is known as BCD Farms. This vineyard is a partnership and is located North of our winery site on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa. This is an area known to produce some outstanding Zinfandel grapes. BCD Farms is an 80 acre vineyard with gentle rolling hills. This vineyard produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
A recently acquired vineyard is a 65 acre vineyard on Piner Road in Santa Rosa – about 10 minutes North of the winery, which has sauvignon blanc and gewurztraminer varietals.
Sonoma Coast Vineyard Now in Russian River Valley Appellation: This Vineyard is the Balletto Family home ranch located in the hills of west Sebastopol. Other wineries with vineyards close by include Merry Edwards and Martinelli. The TTB recently approved a petition submitted by the Russian River Valley Grapegrowers to extend the boundries of the Russian River Valley appellation. This extended area includes our home ranch.
The home ranch is planted with 3 different clones of Chardonnay, 9 different clones of Pinot Noir and 2 clones of Pinot Gris. The soil type in this vineyard is Gold Ridge Loam. This vineyard is in a slightly cooler and more windy climate than our main ranch and winery site, requiring different vineyard management techniques, such as pruning for a later bud break for frost protection, and early leafing for better air flow around the grape clusters.
Harvested: Sept. 23, 2009
TA: 6.05 g/L
Residual Sugar: None
Vineyards: 100% BCD (named after the original partnership of Balletto, Carleson and DeLoach)
Soils: Huichica Loam
Clones: 667 (60%) & 777(40%)
Vintage Number: 1