2006 Pinot Noir
California: Marin County
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Family Ties
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Secure an elusive Marin County Pinot Noir for our operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Kendric Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Marin County Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Stewart Johnson
Marin County is just south of Sonoma County and North of San Francisco. Because it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the bay, the growing season is generally longer, gentler and milder providing an ideal climate for Burgundian varietals. Marin’s total acreage under vine is only in the hundreds, causing the region’s small family wineries to often times be overlooked.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Clear and light garnet and ruby with a luminescent core and pink hued edges, widely spaced thin legs streak down the side of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Medium intensity with firm fruit notes of cranberry and blueberry backed by spice and earth components. As this wine opens up (highly recommended) the aromas evolve to include a touch of vanilla, tobacco smoke and a touch of brush.
Feel – The attack on this medium-bodied wine is initially tangy and dry with firm tannins and bright youthful acidity that lingers through to the finish.
Taste – Fruit flavors of cranberry, pomegranate and tart plum lead off with spicy and earthy components that are revealed as the wine breathes. A touch of oak and gun-smoke are also revealed as this wine breathes.
Finish – Clean and crisp with tart fruit of medium length.
Conclusion – The 2006 Kendric Marin Pinot Noir is a youthful and focused wine revealing the distinct fruit, spice and earthy characteristics of its vineyard. With its bright acidity, this wine will pair well with a variety of foods. Be sure to give this wine some time to open up so that all of its flavors and aromas are revealed.
“Wine grapes? In Marin County?!”
This is what Agent White shouted to me over our bad cellular connection. This, just after I told him that I had discovered Pinot Noir growing north of the Golden Gate, well south of California’s usual “Wine Country”.
“That’s right, White. And it from the readings I am getting on my W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) handheld, it looks to be very promising,” I replied.
I was on R&R and should have known better than to call in with this information, but it was pretty intriguing. Agent White quickly informed (more like ordered) me to postpone my pleasure trip. My new objective: Find a wine that is being made from these grapes!
After additional analysis of the grapes, I decided that I would scour my network of local resources, including a few key local bottle shops and some on the ground assets. After a few calls, it was apparent that there were, indeed, a few producers of Pinot Noir. One, however, sprang to the top: Kendric Vineyards.
Some quick sleuthing and I was able to secure a private meeting with the owner and winemaker, Stewart Kendric. Stewart’s approach to producing wine is all-encompassing and his influence on the end product takes place at every level; He is farmer, vineyard manager, cellarmaster, marketer and winemaker. This level of attention ensures that his wines turn out the way that he desires them to.
After our brief meeting, I returned to HQ with samples in hand. I quickly convened an impromptu tasting panel. The wine was enjoyed by all, and I called Stewart immediately to procure an allocation for our Operatives!
Great wine in Marin County? You bet!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Kendric Pinot Vineyard on the Corda Family Ranch can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Blueberry, cranberry and plum fruit elements gradually yield to the vineyard’s characteristic mace, cardamom, sandalwood, tea and tobacco components as the wine breathes. The general flavor profile skews toward the dusky and cool. The ’06 is a bit more focused than the ’05 and has a slightly firmer structure in terms of both acidity and grip. In its youth, this wine, particularly the finish which starts out pretty tight, benefits from decanting.
Our Pinot Noir comes from our 8.5 acre vineyard in Northern Marin near the Sonoma border. It lies to the South of San Antonio Rd. and to the West of Mt. Burdell and Olompali State Park. The vineyard is on a moderate to steep East facing slope. I have a long-term lease on this and other scattered potential vineyards sites on a 1500 acre ranch, one of many owned by the Corda Family.
About The Winery:
Kendric Vineyards is a small vigneron’s operation producing Pinot Noir from Marin and Syrah from the Shenandoah Valley.
My name is Stewart Johnson and I handle all aspects of production — from planting and farming the vineyards, to making the wine, to now pitching it to you. When I say “handle,” I don’t mean the photo-op level of participation common to the industry. Every vine and every barrel has my hand prints all over it.
Eileen Burke is my wife. She has kept the roof over our heads at home which has allowed me to spend my days in the vineyard and the winery. While running her busy legal practice in San Francisco, she, somehow, found time to have our kids, Lucy and Owen, a couple years ago. With so much time on her hands, I’ve suggested that wine marketing might be a fun hobby.
Kendric Johnson was my Dad and is the person for whom this enterprise was named. He died in 2001 just as we were getting started. Naming the company after him is meant to both honor his memory and to impose his high personal standards upon the undertaking. So it is really his fault that we didn’t release a 2003 vintage that didn’t measure up.
Kathleen Johnson is my Mom. She and I jointly manage the vineyard on her ranch. Besides providing the grapes for the syrah, she has been a source of both moral and material support throughout the long haul from planting to bringing wine to market.
Starry Night Winery has hosted Kendric Vineyards at its facility in Novato since we emerged from the garage in 2003. Beyond renting us space and equipment, they have generously provided guidance that has helped a wine industry novice like myself get started in the business.