Michael Forrest Winery
2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Miron Family Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
You can be assured that the wines we show here are always of exceptional quality. When one really rises above, we issue a special alert, like this one.
IMPORTANT VINEYARD ALERT:
Today’s wine hails from a vineyard that we formerly contracted, exclusively, to Kosta Brown. For reasons unknown (publicly, at least), Kosta no longer gets fruit from the Miron Family Vineyard – and Michael Forrest (Starry Night Winery) does!
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Mission Codename: Their Gain
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Acquire a lovely 2007 Pinot Noir from Michael Forrest Winery.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Michael Forrest Winery (Starry Night)
Wine Subject: 2008 Miron Family Vineyard Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Kent Barthman
Today’s wine hails from the famous Miron Family Vineyard, where Pinot producing superstar, Kosta Brown, used to source grapes. Nobody knows why Miron and Kosta parted ways (ok, we do and we’d tell you, except…) but their loss was Michael Forests brilliant gain. Previous vintages from this vineyard earned stellar scores of up to 94 points!
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 Miron Family Vineyard lies at the south-eastern most sub-appellation of Green Valley, which is known for its cool foggy climate and its Goldridge soil – the perfect Pinot-growing climate.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Viewed through its core, from the top of the glass, the wine shows deep ruby hues. If you spin the wine in the glass, the color takes on more of a black cherry color. When the wine settles, a cascade of tall, chubby legs repeatedly fall down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Lush and fragrant, raspberry and red cherry take a decided lead. Beneath these, revealed with more swirling, the wine reveals an earthy spice, soft cedar, bramble, red plum and a hint of flint.
Feel – Smooth and soft across the tip of the tongue, then softly grippy and mouth-filling as spice and bright acids spread flavors to the corners of the palate. Finely integrated tannins add interest and complexity. Overall, the wine has a plush, medium body.
Taste – Flavorful and dark, with juicy black cherry, dark spice of clove and black pepper, plum, tart cherry and hints of black tea, soft cedar and spice.
Finish – Clean and long, with red fruit that gradually gives way to spice, minerals and hints of cedar and white pepper at the tail end.
Conclusion – The 2008 Michael Forrest Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is delicious and focused wine that shows off fantastic fruit that is balanced perfectly against its more earthen flavors. Cedar and spice on the nose and the palate are supported by flinty minerals that add a nice complexity to the wine. Our tasting panel found itself inhaling the wine for a long time before taking a first sip. The aromas were that intriguing. When we did finally sip, we found that the palate matched the nose beautifully. The earthy characteristics and the wines long finish make the wine even more interesting. Well-structured and bright, we find this wine to be a fantastic companion for most foods. Enjoy now, and cellar a few bottles for the next couple of years.
AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
KENT BARTHMAN: This wine is from a small vineyard in the Gold Ridge area of the Russian River. It has a special micro climate and soil profile conducive growing extremely fine Pinot Noir. The wine shows the typical characteristics of The Russian River area; those being Black Cherry, Black Raspberry, Strawberries, and even a little Rhubarb. With some nice concentration and complex flavors all integrated with smoky toasty aromas and flavors.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
KENT: My favorite pairing is Beef Bourguignon, followed closely by any type of grilled Pork.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
KENT: The region is special because of the micro climate and soils. But mostly the climate, cool nights, foggy mornings, burning off to sunny (but seldom warm!) afternoons and evenings.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER:We are spending most of the time overseeing the 2010 vintage wines and blending the previous vintages for the bottling season. Also bottling some of the lighter wines from 2010
RED: Thank you so much for spending this time with us. Keep up the great work!
_What follows is our original mission
The call came in late last Tuesday night. I was just dozing off after coming off of a long mission.
Sleepily, I answered the phone, “Hullo?”
“Red, it’s Z. Dead Drop Zeta. 0100 hours.”
With that, the connection clicked and there was silence.
Z is a deep cover operative, working in a senior position at Starry Night Winery. Starry Night produces wines that have been wildly popular with our in-house agents and our Operatives alike.
I pulled on my jumpsuit and headed out. I’d have minutes to spare, but with a little extra speed I’d get there on time.
It was raining, as it had been for nearly a week. This has made meeting like this a wet affair, but I was happy for the vineyards. The rains were much needed.
I parked across from the designated drop and spotted a cloaked figure walking briskly through the park where our drop had been established long ago. The lone figure tossed a small bundle into a trash can and kept walking.
Since the park was empty at this time of the morning, I decided not to wear any sort of disguise. As casually as one could pick through a garbage can, I did – and I retrieved the bundle.
Rather than wait until I was back at my lair, opened the bundle, tearing away the neatly wrapped brown paper that surrounded it. Inside was an unlabeled bottle, two photographs and the following note:
_Agent Red: I am writing to alert you to a secret project here at the winery. We have formed a clandestine alliance with winemaker Kent Barthman_. Our plan is to craft small lot, premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made from grapes from some of the most renowned vineyards. These wine will be spectacular.
You are, in fact, now in possession of Bottle #1 of our Michael Forrest Pinot Noir. The alliance has decided to allow The Wine Spies to smuggle a small quantity of the wine to your Operatives who will, no doubt, appreciate the balance and great character of the wine.
We’re trusting you and your Operatives to keep the wine under wraps. Please don’t allow this wine to fall into enemy hands. They’ll figure out ways to get their hands on some, soon enough.
With heart racing, I quickly returned back to the safehouse to evaluate the wine. En route, I alerted my fellow agents. They joined me in time to enjoy the freshly decanted wine. Our opinions were unanimous; Superb wine, secure an alottment for our Operatives, immediately.
If you’ve enjoyed Starry Night’s wines in the past – or if you just love great, hand-crafted specialty Pinot Noir – then this wine will be a sure hit.
Agent Red, Out!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Green Valley Sub-Appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Dark garnet ruby red color leading to alluring aromas of black cherry, Santa Rosa plums, Darjeeling black tea and spices with a hint of vanilla. Dense and rich mouthfeel and texture with flavors of black cherry and spice. Elegant and balanced fruit driven finish with smoky oak tones.
Michael Forrest Winery is dedicated to making small production Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from select, premium vineyards in order to showcase the regions where these varietals are best grown. – Kent Barthman, Winemaker
About The Vineyard:
Miron Family Vineyard is situated at the southernmost tip of Russian River Valley’s sub-appellation, Green Valley. This part of the appellation lies directly in the path of the cool fog transported through the top of the Petaluma Gap. Because of the cool temperatures, Miron Family Vineyard is late to ripen and produces fruit with deep aromatics and flavors while maintaining precise acidity and balance. The vineyard is 3 acres and is planted to clones 667 and 115.
About The Winery:
Our philosophy for Michael Forrest Pinot Noirs is to produce wines from the most important and unique growing regions of California. Our goal is to make wines that will reflect these growing regions and showcase how the Micro Climates of these areas influence the character of the wines. So a Michael Forrest wine from the Carneros region will feature flavors strawberry & bright cherry, a wine from the Russian River appellation would showcase flavors of black cherry & plum, while a Pinot from the Anderson Valley would typically feature firm acid structure and almost tutti fruity character; and wines from Santa Barbara are noted for organic aromas that balance the fruit of the vineyards in that appellation.
Our goal with our Chardonnay is to present a complex Chardonnay without losing focus of the depth and complexity of the fruit from vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Our aim is to develop single vineyard Chardonnay that reflects the unique characteristics resulting from the micro climate, geography and geology of a single site within the appellation.
Our commitment at Michael Forrest Winery is to produce wines of distinction and unique character that represent a value to all levels of wine consumers.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Harvest: October 4, 2008
Brix at Harvest: 25.1º
TA: .588 g/100ml
Aging: 15 months in 60% new oak; 100% French and Hungarian oak barrels.