2008 "Terroir Select" Pinot Noir
Santa Barbara County
What We Say
Unless you find yourself in the downtown Napa tasting room of Stonehedge Winery, the only place to purchase this wine is right here. Once again, The Wine Spies scoop other wine merchants to be the first to bring you a winery-only exclusive.
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Mission Codename: First Planting
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Stonehedge, a winery that we first infiltrated in 2008. Before it is released to the general market, secure their 2008 Santa Barbara Pinot
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stonehedge Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Pinot Noir, Terroir Select, Santa Barbara County
Winemaker: Jon Alexander-Hills
Santa Barbara County’s Pinot Noir may have become famous by the movie Sideways, but the tradition of wine growing and winemaking dates back to the Spanish missionaries but after prohibition many of the vines disappeared. In the early 1970s vines began to reappear and in just a few years, however unlikely, the region began to develop a reputation for producing exceptional Bugundian varietals challenging Oregon and New Zealand in the production of exceptional Pinot Noir.
The Los Alamos Valley, where the fruit for this wine was sourced, has the largest number of acres under vine, among alll other areas of Santa Barbara County. The cool maritime climate is influenced and tempered by the Pacific Ocean, making the valley one of the coolest growing regions in California. Along with the climate, soils of sand and clay loam suit Pinot Noir exceedingly well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby red when viewed from the top, the wine shows more pale burgundy hues when viewed from the side. Especially when you give the wine a good spin. As the wine settles, tight clusters of skinny legs move steadily downward.
Smell – A rush of bright red cherry, blackberry and blueberry lead the fragrant nose. Behind these, strawberry, sweetwood, fresh herbs de Provence and freshly tilled dark soil.
Feel – Grippy on the initial attack, the wine then glides easily across the mid-palate. This bright wine has finely integrated tannins and great acidity. After a few moments, a soft dryness spreads to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Smoky black cherry juice, out front, followed by cherry cola, ripe raspberry, young strawberry, mild fresh herbs, earth, unsweetened dried cranberry and, uniquely, dried concord grape.
Finish – Long and full, juicy at first, then clean, supported by the bright acidity of the wine. As fruit flavors fade and tannins work their way around the palate, earthy and mineral laden flavors create a gentle bridge to softest dark spice at the very end.
Conclusion – The 2008 Stonehedge Terroir Select Pinot Noir is a wonderful wine that shows off the special terroir of the Los Alamos region. Pinot grown here enjoys conditions that are the best suited to the grape. Approachable and flavorful, this wine leads with a fresh and bold nose of bight red fruit. Flavors are slightly smoky, at first, before leading to lush and bight with juicy red flavors and earthy herbs and spice. The finish is long and rather dynamic, with one group of flavors leading to another until, at the very end, dark spice remains. Pair this exciting wine with chicken Cordon Bleu, wild mushroom risotto or a pork tenderloin. Enjoy now, but save a few bottles to see how this wine progresses.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2008 Terrior Select Santa Barbara county Pinot Noir is a rich, fully ripened Pinot. Its light garnet color and medium body lead into aromas bursting with sweet black cherry and strawberry fruit characters. The wine was aged in older oak, to enhance the flavors without interfering with the fruit. The flavor mirror the aromas, and have a well-balanced, clean and sumptuous mouth feel.
The grapes were grown primarily on the White Hills Range in Los Alamos, one of the first plantings of grapes in Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara County is considered by many to be the perfect place to grow pinot noir. The cool nights (5o-54f) and mild days (rarely over 80f) allow for a long growing season without over-ripeness.
This wine can benefit from at least a year of bottle aging, but do not wait too long, the fruit is exquisite.
About The Winery:
In 1992, the Shahabi Brothers began producing wines in the small town of St. Helena, situated in the heart of Napa Valley. The Shahabis selected Napa Valley with the strong belief that the rich and diverse terrain of Napa Valley combined with the ever beaming and warm California sunshine would produce exceptional wines, hardly matched anywhere else in the world. From the very beginning, the Shahabis made the gentle care of the grapes from vine to bottle priority one. This care and dedication has pushed the small family operated Stonehedge to the forefront of California winemaking and a recognized name for exceptional quality.
Since its first release in the early 90’s, Stonehedge has quickly become synonymous with quality. Results speak for themselves. Since its debut, Stonehedge sales now span the globe, from the entire United States to Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
Stonehedge’s mission is to produce wines that are worlds apart from wines produced by the large producers or corporate conglomerates. Stonehedge’s philosophy is to produce elegantly handcrafted wines that are affordable by the majority of the population. In today’s world, after all the consolidations and mergers, corporate giants who treat wine like liquor own some of the even so called small producers. At Stonehedge, we ritually believe that wine is a delicate and sensitive product that must be handled with utmost respect and attention to all details. Stonehedge is dedicated to producing exciting, delicious, multi-dimensional wines that are not only available to a few, but to everyone.
About The Winemaker:
Jon Alexander-Hills is a native of California, growing up in La Crescenta, Southern California. Jon’s love of nature developed through camping trips he took with his family and later deepened through his Boy Scout activities. Jon hikes, skis, and spends time in National Parks, when ever he can.
Jon graduated from high school a year early in 1975 and went on to the University of California, Davis to study botany, food science and enology. He graduated from UC Davis with two masters degrees in 1982, a Masters in Food Science, specialty in Enology, as well as a Masters in Plant Physiology. Throughout his school years he worked as cellar worker at Mondavi Winery so he could learn how wine was really made, not just what they taught in the University.
Following graduation, Jon has been working in well known wineries and with well known brands Santa Barbara to Napa Valley.
He is married with one boy, 15, who is a world class Irish dancer and concert pianist. He joined Stonehedge full time in September 2008 after several years of being a consultant.
Stonehedge specializes in the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Stonehedge produces wines in three distinct profiles: 1. California Appellation wines; 2. Napa Valley Appellation wines; 3. “Signature Vines”™. The California Appellation wines offer a fruit forward, supple and soft flavor profile with a light touch of oak. The Napa Valley appellation wines offer an intense, rich and concentrated fruit core with elegantly rounded tannins framed by toasty oak notes. The “Signature Vines”™ wines are produced from specifically selected blocs of famous vineyards embodying the best a varietal has to offer. All “Signature Vines”™ productions are very limited.
At Stonehedge, we strongly believe in gentle care and handling of the grapes from the vine to the bottle. All vineyards are meticulously managed with a ritual green harvest in early summer, ensuring low yields. All Napa Valley grapes are hand harvested, carefully inspected, and subsequently fermented in small fermenters. Stonehedge draws its fruit from some of the best vineyards across California, benefiting from California’s diversely rich and complex soil and microclimates, all the way from Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Mendocino, down to Santa Barbara.
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 13.8% alc./vol.
Cooperage: 9 months in older French and American oak