2006 Pinot Noir - Monterey
California: Monterey County
What We Say
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 even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Cima Collina.
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SUPERIOR WINE ALERT! We don’t oft do repeats. When we do, you can be assured that its only because it is a wine that we love very much. Today’s wine is a beautifully bright and delicious Pinot Noir from Monterey County.
Mission Codename: The best and the brightest
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Cima Collina to uncover the truth about their 2006 Pinot Noir. Our assets report that the wine is among the best Pinot Noir they have tasted. If true, secure an ample allocation for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Cima Collina
Wine Subject: 2006 Monterey County Pinot Noir
Winemakers: Annette Hoff
Backgrounder: The first time we featured a Pinot Noir from Cima Collina, Agent Red had a difficult time infiltrating the winery. It was worth the effort, though, because now Cima Collina is a fully vetted Wine Spies winery and our Operatives can count on being privy to their best releases. Today’s Monterey County Pinot Noir is among the finest we have had the please to taste and we recommend to our Pinot-loving Operatives that they scoop up this limited-availability wine – before we run out.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and perfect ruby-red with great clarity, a springy bounce and thin, widely-spaced legs that run down the glass at varied speeds
Smell – Richly layered and warm, with deep fruits of cherry, mild forest floor, fresh earthen spices and toasty oak
Feel – Cool, light and round, this wine speeds its was across the front palate and then grips first at the front of the tongue, where a slight warmth and dryness makes its way to the back of the mouth.
Taste – Sweet, fresh, bright and slightly tart with flavors of bing cherry, pomegranate, plum, cedar and mild forest floor
Finish – Long, lush and lingering, the flavors and feelings that this wine leaves behind develop and change over time, making it a wine to sip lovingly while take the time to appreciate its subtle nuances
Conclusion – Pure pleasure, this wine is everything you could wish for in a Monterey Pinot Noir. Attribute its great aromas, feel and flavors to the meticulous labor that went into making this wine. With daily attention to its progress, this wine was tended with care by winemaker Annette Hoff, who virtually lived with the grapes post-harvest to ensure the proper extraction on flavors and color. Annette’s attention to the grapes, coupled with her winemaking ability and her brilliance in selecting and sorting the fruit that went into this wine, all combine to deliver a wine that is exceptionally flavorful, fun to drink and even better to share over a great meal with friends and loved-ones.
Now that Cima Collina is a fully vetted winery, The Wine Spies are privy to their wines. When intel reports began flooding in about today’s wine, we only needed to ask Cima Collina for a private tasting.
To see how our relationship with Cima Collina began, what follows is our original mission report:
For more than a month, Agent Red had tried and failed to bring us a Cima Collina wine. Wine Spies HQ gave him one final chance to land this exceptional Monterey County Pinot Noir from fabled lady winemaker Annette Hoff. Read the mission report below to see how he finally managed to snare this great wine!
Not every mission goes as smoothly as I would like them to. While this particular mission did not go horribly awry, it did take me an awfully long time to complete.
I first learned of Cima Collina wines from an Asset of mine, a private informant that has alerted me to more than a few great Monterey-area wines. This Asset, we’ll call him ‘_Monte_’, sent me an alert on my SpyComm device and told me to rush to try what he called Cima Collina’s ‘perfect pinot’. Included in the alert was all of the intel he had gathered on the wine, the winemaker, the vineyard and the winery. Everything sounded impressive and I trusted Monte’s judgment, so I headed to their tasting room in the village of Carmel-by-the-sea, a few miles south of Monterey.
While I pride myself on a good sense of direction, Carmel initially proved a difficult place for me. The town uses no street addresses! Instead, people navigate their way around by heading to ‘addresses’ such as: “_The West side of San Carlos, between Ocean and 7th, in the Paseo Courtyard, behind Kocek Jewelers_”, which happens to be the Cima Collina tasting room. Well, after a few mis-turns, I finally found the tasting room, which also houses a lovely gallery where the works of local artist are on display. On tasting the wine, I was immediately impressed and knew that I should procure an allotment for our Operatives. I got the business card of the manager of the winery, and was on my way.
Rather than place the winery under further surveillance, I decided to take a more direct approach and simply ask for the wine. Sounds simple, right? Well, after extended rounds of phone-tag, I decided to visit Cima Collina at a then-upcoming tasting event in downtown Monterey. There were many wineries at this particular event and when I found the Cima Collina table, it was mobbed. After fighting my way to the front, I introduced myself to the Winemaker and explained my plight. She was sympathetic and told me to keep trying. She explained that her wines were very popular and that they had been inundated with purchase requests. So, I kept trying. And kept missing. Then at another wine event, I met the hard-to-pin-down manager himself. Because he was so busy at the event, he asked me to keep trying him.
More of the same ensued and then, finally, just yesterday we actually spoke on the phone – and we simply and jovially arranged to secure some of this fabulous Pinot Noir for our Operatives. Busy wineries don’t get that way without a reason. A busy winery is usually a sign that something special is going on. In the case of Cima Collina, it was all about their fantastic Pinot Noir, and this one is my favorites!
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The grapes included in this blend were harvested from three distinct sites: two vineyards on opposite sides of the Salinas Valley in Monterey (Chula Vina and Tondre Grapefield), and also from our own estate vineyard in Carmel Valley, Hilltop Ranch. Chula Vina tends to express very broad dark fruit and nice tannin and mouthfeel. Tondre is a classic pinot: aromatic, delicate, complex yet full-bodied. Hilltop Pinot is bold, dark, expressive.
Everything about this wine was handmade in our minimalist approach. After an initial sorting, we fermented the grapes in small, open-top bins that were punched down two to three times daily to extract color, flavor and complexity. The wine was pressed off into oak barrels of which 28% were new. There it rested for 10 months before bottling.
The resulting wine is purely Pinot Noir in character, the wine shows off black cherry and plum aromas that return in the flavor. Notes of toasted cedar and spice are well integrated into the wine. The balance and complexity of this new wine is achieved in large part from its velvety tannins and apparent structure that we believe is a critical component of fine Monterey Pinot Noir.
About Cima Collina
Cima Collina produces artisan wines from small Monterey vineyards. The idea of an “artisan wine” is the partnership with growers who meticulously cultivate vineyards, the insistence on using only carefully chosen fruit, and the creation of wine on a barrel-by-barrel basis.
The focus on Monterey vineyards is an acknowledgement that this region is now and will continue to produce wines that are interesting, compelling and unique. Many factors conspire to make this a truly gifted region for growing grapes, from the cool maritime climate, well-drained soils and the energy of our winemaking colleagues a dynamic renaissance is currently underway in our region.
We invite you try the wines of Cima Collina as well as the other wines of the Monterey Wine Country we are confident will meet your highest expectations.
Annette began her winemaking career in Napa Valley under Winemaker Bill Dyer at Sterling Vineyards. In 1994 Hoff was chosen to oversee the winery’s in-house, yet self-running experimental winery. She move south in 1996 to Carneros and Saintsbury Vineyards where she took the enology position and confirmed what she’d always known: Pinot Noir was her first love.
Her fondness for Pinot drove her west, far west, in 1998 when she went to New Zealand to undertake a study of that country’s approach to Pinot Noir production working at various wineries in a freelance fashion. But it was only a few months when Estancia called and asked Annette to become the winery’s Pinot Noir Winemaker in Monterey. So, she headed west, back to the states, where she discovered a region she became convinced could be Pinot Noir and winemaking heaven. In 2004 Richard Lumpkin went looking for a winemaker as passionate about the Monterey wine region as he had become. He found Annette and asked her to manage Cima Collina and make the wines. It was the chance to apply her knowledge of winemaking and enthusiasm for artisan wine from the ground up. Annette released her first Cima Collina wines in 2005.
Everything about this wine was handmade in our minimalist approach. After an initial sorting, we fermented the grapes in small, open-top bins that were punched down two to three times daily to extract color, flavor and complexity. The wine was pressed off into oak barrels of which 27% were new. There it rested for 14 months before bottling.