2009 Reserve Pinot Noir
California: Monterey County
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Winner, Winner
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Visit Topel Winery and acquire an allocation of their delicious and newly released 2008 Monerey County Pinot Noir.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Topel Winery
Wine Subject: 2009 Topel Winery Pinot Noir Reserve – Monterey
Winemaker: Mark Topel
Backgrounder: Monterey County is emerging as a mecca for Pinot Noir. The Wine Spies have featured several Monterey County Pinots and, every time, our Operatives have scooped them up enthusiastically. Today we mark our return to Topel – who just garnered a Gold Medal in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and a 92-point score from Wilfred Wong – for today’s delicious and robust expression of Monterey Pinot Noir. Be sure to read Agent Red’s tasting notes and winemaker interview, below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Brilliant ruby red hues, with pink edging and a slightly darker heart.Tall, thin legs descend down the glass wall after swirling the wine.
Smell – Full and lush on the nose, with bold red cherry, candied strawberry, red raspberry and soft, loamy earth. Spice and vanilla underpin the fruit and hints of black tea, subtle cedar shavings and a hint of white pepper add the right amount of rounding.
Feel – Soft and very round on initial entry. Then, as the wine passed the mid-palate, it digs in, adding a tart dryness and revealing medium to firm tannins at the edges of the mouth. Acidity is vibrant but also smooth and even.
Taste – Rich and red cherry, black cherry, fresh raspberry and tart strawberry candy lead the way. As the wine settles onto the palate, tart cherry, exotic spice, kola nut, cedar and subtle silver gunpowder add a secondary rush of flavor.
Finish – Clean, long and lingering with bold fruit yielding to spice, sweetwood, kola and the subtle flavor of gunpowder.
Conclusion – The 2009 Topel Winery Reserve Pinot Noir – Monterey is a bright, brilliant wine that bursts forth with flavor and bold aromatics. Swirl the wine, between savory sips, and witness its evolution. Somewhat restrained and shy, at first, this wine really begins to emerge as it airs out. The more you swirl, the more fruit and subtlety are revealed. Swirl and decant for optimal results. Enjoy this wine all on its own, or with a wide variety of pairings. We enjoyed our sample bottle with a plate of exotic dried meats and hard cheeses. The combinations were all divine. Don’t miss out on this exceptional Pinot Noir.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mark Topel
DATE OF BIRTH: January 11, 1945
PLACE OF BIRTH: Chicago, Illinois
WINE EDUCATION: Self-taught. Audited courses at UC Davis, mentored by some of the finest CA winemakers who are good friends, and OJT.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Winemaker, Topel Winery 1996 – Present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Minimal intrusion. Let the grapes express themselves.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Tremendous positive feedback from satisfied customers
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Each vintage is like a new and unique poem—handcrafted and polished to perfection”
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Topel’s Healdsburg tasting room where today’s wine and other great wines can be tasted can be seen in this <A HREF=“http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=125+Matheson+Street,Matheson+St,Sonoma,+California+95448&t=h&z=16” TARGET=“NEW”>satellite photo</A>.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
A glass full of rubies! Like its predecessor, our 2009 Topel Pinot Noir Reserve is the best of the best, crafted from the finest Pinot Noir fruit from the vintage. It is a sensual, beautifully balanced wine, with bold fruit flavors, dominated by blackberries and plums, reminiscent of its famous mid-Burgundian sisters from Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux. The nose is bright and floral with nuances of lilac and rose petals, and orange peel. The mouthfeel is full and balanced, with a long, silky finish.
As always, we source our grapes for this wine from a Northern Monterey vineyard we call Serendipity because we feel it is our good fortune to have found absolutely the best place in California for Pinot Noir grapes. Located directly across from the famed Santa Lucia Highlands, this area is known for its special terroir and unique climate, which allows for a long growing season, resulting in deeply colored, richly flavored, elegant wines.
Methode: The 2009 growing season was mild, which enabled the grapes to mature to uniform ripeness with a minimum of heat stress. We harvested in the third week of September. The grapes were field crushed within 30 minutes of picking and allowed to spontaneously ferment in 3/4-ton batches. The small fermentation bins were punched down by hand four times a day to maximize color and flavor, which also allowed for a cooler fermentation, lasting 23 days. The wine was then pressed into 25% new French oak barrels (super tight grain from Vosges and Allier wood) for the first 6 months. After secondary fermentation, we separated the best barrels of the ’09 vintage and transferred the Reserve Pinot for another year of aging into neutral French oak cooperage, before bottling. The wine was released in November, 2011.
Food Pairing: As for our favorite pairings with this wine. In November, hands down the full turkey dinner! Other than that, anything lamb or salmon. From lamb burgers to roasted, stuffed leg of lamb. Salmon cakes or simple poached salmon fillets are most delicious with this incredible wine. I would be happy to share my Salmon Cakes recipe with anyone who is interested!
About The Winery:
All Topel wines are lovingly handcrafted by Mark and Donnis, who employ minimalist techniques to transform simple grape juice into world-class wines that are robust, yet balanced and elegant — soulful wines that perfectly reflect the soil and climate of their origin.
At Topel Winery, the art of making wine begins within 15 minutes after the grapes are harvested, with a “field crush” right in the vineyard. The grapes are then transported immediately to the winery to begin their transformation into wine.
Topel Winery uses the highest quality fruit from our estate vineyards and from selected sites that grow grapes to our stringent standards, for making our different varietals.
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir, 50% Pommard, 30% clone 667, and 20% clone 115
Average Brix: 26
Production: 250 Cases