Mahoney Vineyards

2005 Mahoney Ranch Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir •Mahoney Ranch

California: Napa Valley: Carneros

Offer Expired:Dec 10, 2008 at 11:59 pm
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What We Say


Today’s wine is the penultimate example of perfect Carneros Pinot Noir. Treat yourself to a delicious and elegant Pinot for the holidays


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Mission Codename: The Pinnacle

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Mahoney Vineyards and retrieve the final remaining cases of their astoundingly great estate Pinot Noir

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Mahoney Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2005 Carneros Pinot Noir

Vineyard: Mahoney Ranch Vineyard

Winemaker: Ken Foster

Backgrounder: The Carneros region, which straddles Napa and Sonoma Counties, is famous for producing incredible wines. Particularly Pinot Noir. We first fell in love with Mahoney Pinot Noir earlier this year and we were excited to have the chance to bring you another one before we close out 2008. Today’s Mahoney Pinot is the best we have tried from them, and we hope that you get to enjoy some with your Holiday entertaining this year. Agent Red was dispatched to investigate today’s wine and you can read his tasting profile and 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 to perfectly still when swirled

Smell – Deeply aromatic with a rich nose of deep cherry, raspberry, fresh earthen anise, subtle gunpowder and spices

Feel – Feather-light, silky smooth and slightly wet at first, this wine starts off cool and light but then takes a sensual and slightly serious turn as lush medium tannins take hold all around the mouth

Taste – Bright and delicious with classic Carneros flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, subtle cranberry and earthen flavors with soft leather, subtle stems and a soft minerality

Finish – This wine has a finely polished finish that starts bright and sweet before flavors ramp up, leading to a long, elegant and slightly dry conclusion

Conclusion – This is an outstanding Pinot Noir from our always impressive friends at Mahoney! Of the three Pinot Growing regions that continue to knock my socks off (Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara), Carneros seems to deliver the most consistently excellent wines. Today’s wine delivers refined elegance, paired with great flavors and a feel that makes me experiment over and over with sips of different size and duration. Each sip is an experience. Of course, this wine also delivers great utility, as it is a bright, juicy and delicious food-pairing companion. If you are looking to end the year with the perfect Pinot, you are in luck today. Enjoy!

Prior Mission Recap:

The following is a retransmission of our original mission to Mahoney Vineyards, in which Agent Red first becomes acquainted with the winery. On this previous mission, he discovered Mahoney’s Haire Vineyard Pinot. He like that wine, but loves today’s Mahoney Estate Pinot Noir even more.

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 soliloquy’s.

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.

end prior mission recap

Afterword: We hope that you enjoy today’s wine, Mahoney’s 2005 Mahoney Ranch Estate Pinot Noir. Its simply amazing.

Wine Spies Winery Check:

You can taste Mahoney wines at Oxbow in Napa, California, which is shown in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

92 PointsWine Enthusiast – Just what you look for in Carneros Pinot, or any cool-climate Pinot: an elegant mouthfeel, silky texture and ripe fruit… – Feb 2007

About This Wine:

This wine is pure Carneros, grown in the vineyard across from the winery which has produced some of our favorite wines over the last 30 years. Rarely do individual lots of Pinot Noir express intense fruit and deep structure at the same time, yet these did, showing lovely black cherry notes with a pervasive fusion of perfume, black pepper and allspice in the nose. The wine has ample tannins, well-integrated oak and a lush, supple texture.

About The Vineyard:

The vines of Mahoney Ranch rise to 100 feet above the Napa Valley floor. A variety of Pinot Noir clones like Beba, Swan, Martini, UCD 12 and 107, and Dijon 667 are planted here in lighter soils while Chardonnay thrives in the heavier clay. In all, 44 acres of vines snake east to west over hilltops and through swales. The frequent fog burns off mid-morning and winds stir by noon, gaining in strength and then fading by four o’clock. The intensity of the summer sun is felt on western exposures where a few acres of Syrah also prosper.

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.”

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