What We Say 2004 Carneros Pinot Noir
Operatives looking for the 2004 Raymond Burr Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – it goes on sale tonight at midnight.
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Mahoney Vineyards.
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Mission Codename: Tortoise and the Haire… The Haire wins!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Substantiate reports that Mahoney Vineyards, in California’s Carneros region, makes an incredible Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Mahoney Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Carneros Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Ken Foster
Backgrounder: The Carneros region, which straddles Napa and Sonoma Counties, is famous for producing incredible wines. Particularly Pinot Noir. When reports from numerous Wines Spies field assets suggested that Mahoney Vineyards had created a perfect Pinot Noir, Agent Red was dispatched to investigate. Read his tasting profile and following mission report to learn what makes today’s wine so special
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Ruby red with perfect clarity, an ultra-tight surface that quickly settles quickly to perfectly still when swirled, leaving behind chubby and widely-space legs that crawl down the glass
Smell – Deeply aromatic with a rich nose of blueberry, raspberry, sweet cherry, fresh earthen anise, and the slightest flinty gunpowder
Feel – Silky and light up-front, cool then slightly warming, with a unique combination of soft tannic dryness and a soft creaminess
Taste – Delicious, with layers fruit and spice with deep cherry, smoky raspberry and blueberry with mildest sage, mildest leather and flint
Finish – This wine has a finely hewn finish that starts big, with a slight tartness and fruit – but then turns soft, delicate, elegant and slightly dry
Conclusion – Today’s wine is another deeply impressive California Pinot Noir, this time from Carneros, a region with a reputation for producing legendary Pinot Noir. This Pinot has a fantastic and very unique mouth-feel, deep layers of aromas and flavors, and a delicious finish that keeps you sipping and sipping. Enjoy this wine on its own or with most foods. Its balance and acidity make it easy to pair with most meats, cheeses or seafood.
I make no bones about it, I sometimes find Agent White’s discussions on upgrading our W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) system, frightfully boring. The W.I.N.E. system is our proprietary and top secret system that, in simple terms, assists us in finding superior wines for our Operatives.
Making my way to the computer lab, I took a deep breath and braced myself for another of Agent White’s endless soliloquys.
Agent White was grinning widely. A bad sign to be sure.
“Ready to begin?” he asked.
“Uh, sure,” I lied.
“I’ve been working on a new algorithm that will make it easier to determine the likelihood that future vintages of particular wines will be better than previous vintages.”
“Wonderful,” I said. “Sounds great! Let me know know how that turns out.”
“Let S be any finite set, ƒ be any function from S to itself, and x0 be any element of S. For any i > 0, let xi = ƒ(xi−1). Let μ be the smallest index such that the value xμ reappears infinitely often within the sequence of values xi, and let λ (the loop length) be the smallest positive integer such that xμ = xλ+μ. The cycle detection problem is the task of finding λ and μ.”
I blinked at him, suddenly realizing that the blank expression on my face probably revealed my disinterest.
He went on: "I call this my Tortoise and the hare algorithm.
‘Hare’… ‘hare’… That reminded me of a well-regarded vineyard I had recently heard of, Haire Vineyard.
Perking up, I grabbed my spy-handheld and, pretending to take notes as Agent White droned happily on. I punched in “Haire Vineyard” and set the Nexus to work. In an instant, a few wines and wineries were revealed. I narrowed my search based on my own favorite search criteria and was presented with a single result:
Mahoney Vineyards. 2004. Carneros Pinot Noir. Haire Vineyard.
As I read about the wine, I nodded and made “mmm, hmmm” sounds. The wine seemed fascinating and I logged a mission request with HQ.
I’ll spare you the rest of Agent White’s discourse. Needless to say, if it hadn’t been for his lecture, I never would have found today’s really superb Pinot Noir.
The Carneros region has consistently wowed me with its quality wine production – particularly Pinot production. Today’s wine is a beautiful example of delicious Carneros Pinot.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Haire Vineyards can be seen in this spy photo.
What the Winery Says
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About This Wine:
Sourced from one of the pioneer vineyards in the Carneros region, this wine is a blend of Pinot Noir clones we do not grow in our vineyards at Mahoney. The enticing nose is full of raspberries and blueberries with a hint of anise and the mouth feel is velvety, while the great tannin structure will allow the wine to age brilliantly.
About The Winery:
Mahoney Vineyards is the culmination of 35 years of experience growing and producing wines in the Carneros region spanning the cool southern reaches of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Francis and Kathy Mahoney invite you to enjoy the uniqueness of their wines, carefully crafted in small quantities from the very best of their 160 acres of estate vineyards.
About The Founders:
Armed with the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old and confidence in California’s potential to make world-class wines, Francis Mahoney set out in 1971 with his bride, Kathy, to grow Pinot Noir and make wines that would rival red Burgundies. Undaunted by Pinot Noir’s reputation as a difficult grape to grow and vinify, Francis accepted the challenge.
He researched the elements linked with great French Pinot Noirs, noting that the Burgundians were captivated by the concept of terroir, the combined influence of climate and place on a wine. Francis found an area similar to Burgundy in Los Carneros, the appellation which lies across the southernmost portions of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Often obscured by fog and swept by breezes from San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Carneros offered cool year-round temperatures ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Francis planted Pinot Noir and began 30 years of clonal trials to better understand some of the hundreds of clonal variations of the variety. In 1972, he built a small, functional winery and set about using his best tool, a palate honed in the cellars of Burgundy during his tenure as a wine importer. The profile of superb Pinot Noir remained always in his memory, now expressed in the wines of Mahoney Vineyards. Click here to read more about Mahoney or view a timeline of his career.
About The Winemaker:
Francis Mahoney appointed Ken Foster, veteran Pinot Noir winemaker, to oversee production at Mahoney Vineyards in June, 2002. The winemaker/production manager from David Bruce winery in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Foster had been making wine there for 15 years, helping change the focus of the winery from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. Ken focused on small-lot production, emphasizing gentle handling and separation of small wine lots for potential vineyard designate as well as appellation-labeled wines.
Foster’s hiring further strengthened Mahoney’s Pinot Noir program and wine quality enhancements instituted by previous winemaker, Scott Rich, including use of small, open-top fermenters, new oak barrel regimes and small-lot processing. “Ken is the perfect person to drive our quality to new heights,” Francis remarked. “He brings a wide range of experience and a commitment to exceptional winemaking.”
Foster joined David Bruce in 1987 to work crush after undergraduate studies in geology sparked his interest in translating the qualities of a particular site into wine. During his tenure, he gained experience with Pinot Noir drawn from fifty different vineyards and a dozen appellations. “At Mahoney, it’s great to have vineyards within a 15-minute drive of the winery so I can stay on top of grapes as they develop. I also can draw on Francis’s rich history – his pioneering clonal trials and his more than three decades of experience.” Click here for more on Ken Foster’s career and philosophy.