2004 Los Carneros Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County: Carneros
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s stunning Pinot Noir may take you surprise, but we have come to expect greatness from Westwood’s Library Pinots – which are built to age. Today’s wine shows brilliant balance and we cannot recommend it highly enough!
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
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Mission Codename: A Clear Sense of Place
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: At the behest of our Operatives around the world, return to Westwood Winery to secure the final allotment of their budget-minded 2006 North Coast Pinot Noir, a wine that delivers real value.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Westwood Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Pinot Noir – Los Carneros
Winemaker: John Kelly
Backgrounder: We first featured fantastic wines from our friends at Westwood Wines a few years ago. Since then, our operatives have been asking us to feature another. Through careful negotiation, Agent Red was able to procure a limited quantity of their outstanding North Coast Pinot Noir, a budget-minded Pinot that can hang with its more pricey brethren.Varietal Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the Carneros viticultural area, a winegrowing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir. Pinot thrives here. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report to learn more about this fantastic Pinot Noir.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet hued with perfect clarity. At the edge of the glass, the finest ring of pink cuts a beautiful circle around the wine. Swirl the wine, and watch a witness skinny, wine-hued tears emerge quickly, before running slowly down the glass.
Smell – Equal parts Burgundy and California leap from the glass to greet your nose. On the Cali side, bold red cherry, strawberry, raspberry and subtle minerals give clues to the flavors to come. The more Burgundian aromas are all soil, black cherry and a hint of farmyard.
Feel – Soft and round, on entry. Then, the wine becomes very quickly grippy on the mid-palate as it coats the tongue and gains some weight. Plush tannins and a soft acidity frame the fruit beautifully.
Taste – Dark and earthen, at first, and as the wine opens up it reveals black cherry, dark plum, strawberry, and soft spice. Just beneath these, secondary flavors of cola, dried violets and a hint of black pepper emerge.
Finish – Long and very flavorful with dark fruit that lingers. As the fruit fades, minerals, spice, black tea, violets and black pepper make a lengthy appearance.
Conclusion – Today’s 2004 Westwood Winery Los Carneros Pinot Noir was quite a score for us. John Kelly’s wines are known to not just hold up, with age, but to really improve. In fact, I had the recent good fortune to taste a Westwood Pinot from the 2000 vintage. It was amazing. So, too, is today’s wine. Brilliantly balanced, this wine seems to convey equal parts California, with great red fruit, and Burgundy, delivering more earthy and austere characteristics. The wine is, simply, delicious. It invites extended, swirling – and conversation, as you sniff and sip your way through the many nuances of the wine. Be sure to give this wine your careful consideration. Better yet, just get some. Right now!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Westwood Winery Top Secret Tasting Salon can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
In the glass the wine shows a medium garnet-red color and good clarity. The aromas open to cherry fruit, with strong overtones of earth, wet stone, brier, oak, orange rind and sage. In the mouth the wine shows medium body and a complex fruity and spicy palate, great acid structure balanced with silky tannins, and a long woodsy-earthy finish.
This 2004 Los Carneros Pinot bottling has been open and expressive from day one, though it is still a bit angular and waiting to develop finesse – promising to reward long cellaring but engaging to drink now. This vintage marks the last bottling we will make from this unique Carneros vineyard.
Our winemaker has noticed an even-year/odd-year pattern – while odd-numbered vintages give us wines that are very shy and closed-in duing their youth, the even-numbered years yield wines that are wide-open and giving early on and throughout their lives.
Our 2004 Los Carneros Pinot is much more open than our 2003 bottling from this vineyard. The earthier of the two Sonoma Valley Pinots we produced in this vintage, the Los Carneros is powerful but subtle.
About The Winery:
NEW WORLD WINES WITH TRADITIONAL STYLE: Westwood produces wines that satisfy desires for depth, structure, balance and finesse. Our wines are soil-driven and food-friendly. Westwood’s Annadel Estate Vineyard is planted to Dijon and heritage clones of Pinot Noir, several clones of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise and Tannat. Starting with the 2008 vintage our wines are all Estate-produced and -bottled.
We currently bottle one Estate Pinot Noir, a varietal Syrah, our proprietary redFOUR Rhône blend (Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise, Syrah, and a hint of mystery), our 4-Part Rosé, produced as a saignée de cuve from Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise and Syrah, and finally, a small amount of varietal Tannat. Our total annual production is around 2,000 cases.
A NEW WINERY WITH A SOLID PAST: The modern history of Westwood began in 2002 when the winery – founded in 1984 by Bert Urch and Betty Stoltz – was purchased by John Kelly and partners and moved to Sonoma Valley. Today John – a UC Davis-trained biochemist with over two decades of winemaking experience – is making Westwood wines from grapes grown on the Annadel Estate, a unique vineyard planted by the partners in 2001.
The Apprenticeship of John Kelly: John Kelly and Westwood go way back. He and Bert befriended each other while working together in the Department of Biochemistry at Davis, where John was pursuing his post-graduate degree. After Westwood was established as a commercial operation John began helping Bert out at the winery whenever he could.
When John decided to pursue a career outside academia he first took a job managing a high-end wine shop in Davis, and then interned in wine production at R. H. Philips Vineyards in 1987. In 1988 he landed an assistant winemaker position with the prestigious Napa Valley Cabernet producer, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. At SLWC, John’s responsibilities grew to encompass viticultural research – which allowed him to put his training as a scientist to use.
John maintained his relationship with Westwood as his winemaking apprenticeship progressed, continuing to assist whenever he could. Then in 1992 he left Stag’s Leap for a short but instructive stint at Duckhorn Vineyards before moving on into a deeply rewarding research position at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, Sonoma County’s famous Chardonnay producer in the Russian River Valley.
Late in 1994, while still at Sonoma-Cutrer, John took over winemaking at Westwood when Bert Urch suddenly passed away. In 1995 John put to use lessons learned from his associations with wineries successfully specializing in one grape – Chardonnay at Sonoma-Cutrer, Merlot at Duckhorn, Cabernet at Stag’s Leap – and decided to focus his attentions on Pinot Noir at Westwood.
A New Partnership: In 1998, John was working as Technical Director for the wine service laboratory Vinquiry and devoting nights and weekends to Westwood. Though fully engaged in these pursuits, when presented with an opportunity to form a partnership with investors to acquire potential vineyard land, he took it.
The partnership bought an undeveloped parcel located at the northwest end of the Sonoma Valley appellation, in the cool Santa Rosa Plain–Russian River drainage basin. They immediately set about improving and planting their unique site, taking the historic place name of the surrounding area to call their development the Annadel Estate Vineyard.
While the vineyard was being established the partnership approached Betty Stoltz, the owner of Westwood, with an offer to buy the winery. A deal was struck and closed in 2002, and in anticipation of working with the grapes from Westwood’s Annadel Estate the new owners determined to move the winery from its original Sierra Foothills location to the town of Sonoma.
The Move To Sonoma Valley: While waiting for the Estate vineyard to come into production, John secured contracts to buy Pinot Noir fruit from two very high quality vineyards, one in the Sonoma Valley appellation and one in the Sonoma Carneros. John and his partners brought Westwood to market in its new Sonoma Valley incarnation with these two Pinot Noir bottlings, along with the superb Haynes Vineyard Napa Valley Pinot Noir which Westwood produced from 1985 through 2005. Starting with the 2008 vintage, all Westwood wines are 100% Estate Bottled.
We have taken full advantage of the unique combination of soils and exposures at our Annadel Estate Vineyard, planting Pinot Noir in the coolest areas. Presented with a diversity of soils and meso-climates at the site we decided to expand the range of wines offered under the Westwood label. In the warmer locations we planted an unusual selection of red Rhône varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Counoise. We originally planted a small amount of the inky, aptly named Tannat to give us new blending options for our unique reds, but have since found it can make a really interesting varietal wine at our site.
The Future of Westwood: After several vintages the wines we have produced from the Annadel Estate have started to show a clear sense of place, a distinctive structure and minerality that will define the Westwood style going forward.
Ultimately Westwood will release two Estate Pinot Noir bottlings – one vinted from modern-era Dijon clones and a second Pinot assembled from our collection of California Heritage clones.
We will release four wines from our other Estate varieties: our redFOUR – a proprietary red wine blend, a dry pink wine we call our 4-Part Rosé, produced from saignée de cuve of our Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise and Syrah grape lots, a varietal Syrah, and a small amount of varietal Tannat.
Westwood has embarked a new chapter in its history – in Sonoma Valley, where we will continue to produce distinctive artisanal red wines in our iconoclastic soil-driven style.
Varietals: Pinot Noir
Alcohol: % (v/v)