2005 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Weir Vineyard
California: Mendocino County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s wine is a stunning, terroir-driven beauty of a Pinot Noir from our new friends at Bink! Treat yourself to a delicious and elegant PN for the holidays
BONUS GOODIES ALERT!
We asked Bink to make a few pairing suggestions for today’s wine. Instead, they offered up a free recipe booklet with every order of this food-friendly wine
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Mission Codename: The Yorkville Highlands
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate and procure a great Pinot Noir in Mendocino County
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Bink Wine
Wine Subject: 2005 Pinot Noir – Weir Vineyard
Winemaker: Deborah Schatzlein
Backgrounder: In America most Pinot Noir comes from California, particularly from wineries in Napa and Sonoma. At least, that is what you would assume. With greater frequency, we are receiving reports of great Pinot Noir from Mendocino County. With Wine Spies Operatives feeding us intel on their favorite Mendo Pinot, one winery keep emerging. For today’s mission, Agent Red was sent to infiltrate Bink Wines, of Napa, California – in order to assess and procure their Estate Pinot Noir. Read his tasting notes and mission report below.
Special Note: Astute Operatives will recognize the “Weir Vineyard” name. Uber-in-demand winery Williams Selyem also makes a Weir Pinot Noir. Guess what? We like this wine even better!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby red to burgundy in color, with perfect clarity and sparkling edges and a bouncy surface. when swirled, this wine settled quickly, leaving behind skinny, tightly-spaced legs that take a long time to emerge
Smell – Deep and warm aromatics of raspberry, black cherry, vanilla, and earth, with subtle tones of mocha, soft spice, sweet oak and a hint of dried meats
Feel – Soft and round with an initial wetness that is soon replaced with a slowly emerging dryness as the wines soft tannins show up on the mid-palate
Taste – Rich and dark, with concentrated flavors of cherry, raspberry, softest fresh herbs, soft black tea, and a hint of leather and soft spice
Finish – Long, lush and tender with sweet flavors that tail off slowly
Conclusion – This is a sperb superb superb wine! Decant for an extended period and you will be rewarded. On opening, the wine seems just a little angular, with a slightly hard edge and tight flavors. However, allow it some time to breath and the wine softens and becomes just beautiful! The fruit flavors and deep and aromatics emerge and the wine transforms into one of the most exciting and interesting California Pinot Noirs we have tried
I really enjoy personally getting to know the wineries and winemakers that we show off here. Positive feedback from our Operatives has encouraged me to conduct as many interviews as possible. I present my latest interview, with Bink Wines owner and winemaker, Deb Schatzlein:
AGENT RED: Deb! I love your Pinot Noir!
DEBORAH SCHATZLEIN: Thanks! We love it, too!
RED: I don’t have a lot of experience with the Yorkville Highlands appellation, but I can say that your Pinot is very unique and very delicious. Am I detecting terroir in the wine, or is there just something special about the way you make it?
DEB: All of the above, but I have to say that there really is a specific Yorkville characteristic. Our Pinot is a terroir-driven wine, to be sure.
RED: In making your wines, are you the white lab coat type of winemaker, or do you let nature do her thing?
DEB: You know, a balance of both, really. I had the great fortune to have been trained in both methodologies. My wines certainly start in the vineyard, but I am also meticulous in the winery. I try to have a low impact on the wines, and I try to handle the wine as little as possible, letting nature and science run their course.
RED: On thing that I notice about your wines is that the fruit really sings through. I was surprised by this when I learned that you tend to barrel your wines for an extended duration. 17 to 20 months in barrel is a long time.
DEB: It is a long time, but in the barrel regimen that I use – 30% new oak – allows the wine to maintain its fruit, without the oak overpowering it.
RED: You also keep the wine in bottle for a long time prior to release. Tell me why.
DEB: Yes, we just released our 2005 Pinot Noir and, yes, it does seem later than other wineries. I am driven to release the wine when it is ready to drink, and not before. The result is a beautiful wine that you can know you’ll be able to enjoy when you get it home.
RED: Will the 2005 Pinot Noir also age well?
DEB: It will, for a few more years!
RED: With harvest and crush behind you, what’s keeping you busy these days?
DEB: As you know, we recently revamped our label designs and our overall image. We did this to more adequately reflect the elegance and quality of our wines. Now we are very proud of both the inside of the bottle and the outside.
RED: You have every reason to be. We really think that your Pinot Noir is something very special. Tell me, what is the last meal you enjoyed with your ’05 Pinot?
DEB: Ahhh. Good question! This is a very food friendly wine. Certainly, you can drink it on its own – and its a fun wine to analyze and discuss, but I love the wine with a great meal. Let’s see… The last meal was a nice salmon with a citrus glaze.
RED: Sounds great! Could I talk you into giving our Operatives your secret recipe for that?
DEB: Sure! In fact, how about we give them six recipes with their Wine Spies shipment?
RED: Perfect! Thanks for this great chat, Deb, and thanks for your great wines. We Wine Spies have become fast fans…
DEB: Thanks, Red!
What the Winery Says
Ken’s Wine Guide (link) – This wine was my favorite wine presented during the live blogging session at this year’s Wine Blogging Conference. This bright ruby red wine opens with a pleasant spicy strawberry and raspberry like bouquet. On the palate, this wine is medium bodied, smooth, and soft with delicious cherry and light raspberry flavors with notes of spice. The finish is dry and its tingly tannins linger for quite some time. This wine would pair quite nicely with a pork tenderloin or salmon dish. Enjoy – Ken
About This Wine:
A mouth full of juicy black cherries, with aromas of raspberry and violets complemented by vanilla bean and sweet toast. This is a rich and elegant pinot, with a lingering finish to bring you back for more. We make this artisan pinot noir from vines grown at 900 feet on gravelly, south-facing slopes.
About The Vineyard:
The Weir Vineyard is the pride and joy of Bill and Suki Weir. They’ve been working for nearly two decades to create a premier Pinot Noir vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands. The Weir’s vineyard sits at about 900’ and is often just below the marine fog layer that moves up the Anderson Valley toward Yorkville from the Pacific. Warm days, cool nights and foggy mornings produce a relatively late-ripening pinot noir, full of depth and character.
Bill has experimented with different growing techniques, maintaining low crop yields and stressing the vines by limiting water to create greater flavor intensity. The Weirs specialize in Pinot Noir and have several clones, including one thought to be Domaine Romanee-Conti, Wadenswil 2-A, UC Davis Pomard 4, and a special select clone taken from a well-known vineyard bordering the Russian River in Sonoma County. The Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir is marked by a unique terroir – melange soils, Mediterranean climate with long dry summers and renewing fog, south-facing slopes, and neighboring oak trees, which combine to yield exquisite fruit of multi-layered complexity.
About The Winery:
Over a decade ago, we dreamed of having a small, premium quality vineyard and making wine from the hills of Mendocino County, California. Out of that dream, we have created Hawks Butte Vineyard and Bink Wines, handcrafting small lots of wine with intense flavor and character. Bink Wines are deep in color and multi-layered, with a “black ink” quality that is reflected in our name — Bink.
About The Winemaker:
Deb Schatzlein, Winemaker. Deb’s winemaking philosophy is to take the highest quality grapes and allow them to express their full potential by applying low-impact, hands-on winemaking techniques. Her technique is grounded in the science of winemaking, but is enlightened by hands-on experience and intuition. She has worked her way from the ground up in the wine business, beginning in the cellar and lab, mentoring with acclaimed Napa Valley winemakers, and finally making her own wines in a collaborative environment with top California winemakers.
Born in East Haven, Connecticut, Deb loves people and having fun. She grew up with an extended family that would regularly gather for big parties that ran late into the night. Her grandparents set the mold early, making gin in their bathtub during Prohibition. Deb has degrees in chemistry and biology and has taken extensive coursework in viticulture and enology. After a career as a chemical process engineer, first in electronics, then in environmental engineering, she eventually decided to ditch her day job and follow her passion for winemaking.
The grapes were harvested on September 23, 2005, and yielded just 2 tons per acre from this essentially dry-farmed hillside vineyard. The finished wine is a blend of 3 clones. The predominant one is rumored to be a “suitcase” clone from the Domaine Romanee-Conti Vineyard, and the balance consisting of both Pommard and Wadensville 2A.
We used gentle winemaking techniques, starting with destemming the grapes (versus crushing) into one ton bins and cold soaked for 5 days. After the must warmed to 50 degrees F, the bin was inoculated with Assmanshausen cultured yeast. This strain is specific for its use in Pinot Noir to enhance the spice and fruit flavors and aromas of the grapes. Primary fermentation lasted for 14 days, when we pressed the must into a small stainless steel tanks. The wine was inoculated with Oennococcus Oeni cultures to start the secondary malolactic fermentation.
The wine settled for 2 days before being racked into barrels. 5.6 tons of Pinot Noir grapes yielded 874 gallons of wine which aged in approximately 30% new French oak and 70% neutral barrels (old French). Artisan French oak cooperages included Remond, St. Martin, Rousseau, and Sirugue barrels with medium to medium plus toast levels. The wine aged for 20 months in barrels.
Varietal Blend: 100% Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir
Appellation: Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County
Harvest Date: September 23, 2005
Fermentation: 14 days, Assmanshausen yeast
Aging: 20 months; 30% Artisan French oak barrels
Titratable acidity: 0.62 g/100ml
Cases Produced: 368