Sonoma Coast Vineyards
2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Koos Family and Zephyr Vineyards
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Coast
What We Say
MAKE HISTORY ALERT:
Today’s wine will be tasted by our Operatives (and you_), online, on March 14th, 2008 during a historic nationwide tasting. Read the mission report below for more details and watch for complete instructions with your order. *_See you online on March 14th!*
LIBRARY RAID/FINAL AVAILABILITY ALERT:
Today is your last chance to procure this exceptional Sonoma Coat Pinot Noir – a wine that has never been available at today’s exceptional price!
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Mission Codename: The Sleeper
Operative: Agents Red & White and introducing Agent Elevage
Objective: Find a domestic Pinot Noir that rival’s those of Burgundy
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Sonoma Coast Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Anthony Austin
The Sonoma Coast AVA is the 750 square mile area with the Pacific ocean on its western boundary, the San Pablo Bay to the south and Mendocino County to the north, headed inland to the other designated AVAs in Sonoma County. The region is heavily influenced by the cooler ocean climate, increased rainfall and fog that lingers long on the coastal mountains. The specific climate suits the demanding Burgundian varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir very well.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet and burgundy in color with ruby and garnet edges with excellent color density and clarity. Slow fat legs initially that evolve to thinner fast legs.
Smell – Spicy and fragrant on its first pass with floral violet and spicy horseradish and peppermint notes over a fruity cherry and toasted oak base. Earthy barnyard and the slightest aroma of mushroom emerge as the wine lingers.
Feel – The initial attack of this wine is bright and tangy that smoothes dramatically as you continue to enjoy this medium-bodied but well structured wine. Spicy at the tip of the tongue, medium-firm tannins and good acidity add to the complex mouth feel of this wine.
Taste – There is a lot going on in this wine; making it fun to fully explore all its flavors. Red/yellow and black cherry fruit with layers of spice, floral, oak, earthy notes, gunpowder and a touch of cola.
Finish – This wine finishes long, clean and smooth with lingering black cherry, earth and spice.
Conclusion – The 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir will please even the most discerning lovers of Sonoma Pinot Noir as well as those who enjoy their French Burgundian counterparts. The wine has a nice evolution in the glass and its true elegance and finesse is exposed if you give it time to fully express its complex aromas and flavors. Take your time enjoying this wine and you won’t be disappointed.
“SLEEPER ‘ELEVAGE’ ACTIVATED ~ #TTL ~ PRIORITY ALPHA 7 ~ PROCEED TO RALLY POINT theta.”
That was the message I received on my W.I.N.E (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) smartphone. It was enough to jolt me out of my Pinot Noir-educed daydream about one day retiring to my own Pinot vineyard.
I gesture-swiped my smartphone, which purr-beeped my successful activation gesture. I lifted the phone to my ear and spoke, “Agent Red with an Alpha 7. I have a Sleeper activation and request immediate PN-asset backup at rally point theta.”
After two seconds I heard the acknowledgment chime and I swiped the phone to securelock.
Agent White burst into the room, out of breath.
Between pants, he said, “This is happening way earlier than anticipated. What happened?”
“Keep your cool, White. You know how good Agent Elevage is. I’m not surprised that she succeeded in her mission. I am headed to theta now. All PN-a’s have been dispatched as well. Awaiting individual acknowledgments but I expect them all to be there. You stay here at HQ and await direction.”
He started to argue with me, but I simply held up my hand as I walked briskly from the room. I love telling Agent White what to do, and since Elevage was my sleeper, I made the rules on this mission.
While en route to theta, I received the individual notifications from my Pinot Noir Assets, themselves a group of world-renowned PN experts, some of them Agents from around the valley – and around the country. They have been waiting for this moment, and I expect all of them to be there.
On arrival, Agent Elevage greeted me in the lobby of the secret location. We exchanged the safe phrase. Both of us satisfied that all was in order, Elevage escorted me into the room where our secret tasting was to be conducted. There, on the long table, were place settings for ten people. Each setting had 7 Pinot Noirs poured in equal measure into fine burgundy glasses. Each glass sat on a printed letter between A and F. In the center of the table, 7 bottles were wrapped in brown paper, each with a corresponding letter.
“Well done, Agent Elevage. I know that this deep cover mission has been long and perilous. You are to be commended for your efforts.”
Agent Elevage just gave a humble nod and then escorted me to my seat. Gradually, the rest of our tasting panel arrived. Our collective mission: Evaluate the 7 Pinot Noirs that Agent Elevage has procured – and choose the best for our historic online tasting.
Once everyone was convened, the tasting quickly commenced. The room was hushed at first, as everyone sniffed, swirled, sipped and spit. The only other sounds were those of pens on paper or keys clattering on laptops. These people were serious about their Pinot Noir.
When everyone was finished with their evaluation, spirited conversation took place as each of us listed our top three winners. One of our agents tabulated the results, and a clear winner emerged. By a good margin, today’s 2005 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir was declared best of tasting.
With that, Agent Elevage sprang up and dashed from the room. Over her shoulder she shouted, “I’m off to procure the remaining cases! There are only a handful left so…”
And she was gone, leaving the rest of us to share our thoughts on the wine. Here are the impressions of some of our Pinot experts:
Agent Pourmore says:
“I love Pinot Noir. I mean I REALLY love Pinot. This 2005 Sonoma Coast example was no disappointment. This juicy little number had a bright cherry nose, with hints of Jolly Rancher, a bit of spice, and characteristic cherry cola aroma. I also found a slight vegetal & herbacious quality, which had a touch of mint & ceder on the initial sniff, but opened up in to bright fruit and mushrooms. I tasted bright strawberries, cherries, and raspberry juice, and really liked the long lingering finish with baking spices tingling my tongue. A tasty delight that I will seek out and buy again! I gave this wine an A-, high praise from this lush since I am a picky pinotphile.”
To learn more about Agent Pourmore, cache her CovertTwitter Stream.
Agent 29 says:
“Hints of warm cinnamon and subtle mint on the nose make this an inviting wine before you even take a sip. On the palate the ’05 Sonoma Cost Vineyards Pinot Noir bursts with flavors of dark red fruits—cherries, blackberries and cranberry, which are nestled nicely in a silky smooth mouthfeel. The finish lingers just enough to amplify the solid structure.”
Visit Agent 29’swebsite.
Doctor Pinot says:
“This cold climate Pinot Noir, from a classic vintage was picked from two distinct sources, the Koos Family Vineyard and the Zephyr Vineyard; from Dijon Clones 115, 667, 777. Each clone, and place contribute to the deep layers and complex flavors, This expressive but still youthful bright ruby red wine, offers up aromas of wild raspberries, garden rhubarb, alpine strawberries, Bing cherries, and Madagascar vanilla, with hints of smoke, from the MLT French Oak barrels The individual components of taste, while still distinct, reflect the early stages of development; and, point not only to a potentially long cellar life, but will reward the impatient with balanced flavors of red berry fruit and notes of grandma’s cedar closet, and Chinese five spice. While still tighter than the current US credit market, the aromatics and flavors attack the palate with shock and awe. This bright, tightly focused wine is a must buy for any serious Pinotphile, and a wine that will win more converts than an evangelist on late night cable.”
To learn more about Doctor Pinot, follow his Top Secret Twitter Stream.
The Wine Spies would like to offer a hearty *thank you to all of our panelists, even those whose cover we cannot blow, but who provided their Pinot expertise and time for our blind tasting!*
TWITTER TASTE LIVE – LIVE TASTING ALERT!
Our LIVE online tasting will take place on March 14th. Detailed instructions on how you can participate will be included with your order. Just be sure to keep at least one bottle on hand. It’ll be hard, but try!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Sonoma Coast Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is a wonderful refection of the vintage. It is already highly expressive but still very much in the early stages of development. It shows excellent balance and will continue to meld together to offer a complex matrix of fruit and tannins enveloped by a silky mouth feel. I expect this wine will evolve dramatically over the next two years and then at a slower pace for many years to come. Cheers! Anthony Austin, Winemaker, February 20, 2008
*Vintage notes: * The 2005 vintage in the Extreme Sonoma Coast began with an unusually difficult spring that was both wet and cold, even by the standards of this often hostile environment. Compounding this was a rare wind-driven rainstorm in late may that dramatically impacted much of the western portion of the growing region and caused widespread shatter to the fragile clusters in their flowering stage. The result was extremely small clusters that by harvest were as much as 50 to 70 percent lighter than normal and resulted in yields of only one-half to one ton per acre. Fortunately the remainder of the growing season offered mild daytime and cool evening temperatures and just enough late summer warmth for the grapes to reach full maturity. as disappointing as yields were, the quality was excellent, with complexity and concentration due to the high skin to volume ratio.
Harvest and Vinification: Grapes from both vineyards were harvested the first week of October in the fog-shrouded early morning to maintain the delicate nuances and varietal accuracy. Specific clones from the separate vineyards were picked at varying times to capture the characteristics of each site. Ripeness levels ranged from 23.5 to 25.5 degrees Brix. Full phenolic maturity and ideal acid levels were achieved. Te clusters were hand sorted and de-stemmed into small one-ton fermenters, with 30 percent left whole cluster. an extended cold soak, which lasted eight to 10 days depending on the lot, was followed by spontaneous wild-yeast fermentation. Gentle punch downs by hand were performed two to three times per day. Te juice was then chilled and inoculated with assmanhausen yeast to complete fermentation.
Barrel Fermentation and Aging: Tonnellerie Sirugue cooperage provided 36-month-air-dried French oak barrels with medium-plus toast. The barrels have a grain that is tightly formed and resulting in an elegant and complex favor profile with warm spice characteristics. Fifty percent of the barrels were new, and the remaining were two- and three-year-used French oak. Each lot was pressed at approximately three to four degrees Brix and placed in barrel to complete secondary malolactic fermentation. While in barrel, the wines were racked and lots from the same vineyard were blended. After the initial nine months in barrel, all lots were racked, blended, and returned to the same barrels. The final blend was lightly fined using fresh egg whites to preserve and enhance both richness and texture. after an average of 21 months in barrel, the wine was lightly filtered at bottling in June.
About The Winery:
Sonoma Coast Vineyards produces handcrafted wines exclusively from the Sonoma Coast appellation – wines of exceptional quality and character that will be recognized as the highest representation of excellence. Focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a small production of cold climate Syrah, Sonoma Coast Vineyards makes wines that embody the qualities and character that have shown the Sonoma Coast appellation to be one of the great growing regions of the world for these varietals.
Growing grapes in the dramatically cool western reaches of Sonoma County is complex and demanding – but truly worth the risk. The resulting fruit produces wines that are elegant and intensely structured. Wine writer Robert Parker identifies the Sonoma Coast appellation as “where world class Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are being made that are every bit as complex and complete as the greatest wines of France.” (Savor Wine Country Magazine, Fall 2002)
Under the direction of winemaker Anthony Austin, Sonoma Coast Vineyards wines display elegance, harmony, and balance. The 2002 vintage represented Anthony’s 32nd harvest. Having studied under and assisted famed winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, Anthony went on to become the founding winemaker at Firestone Vineyards. During his ten years at Firestone Vineyards, he helped to elevate the Santa Barbara region and Firestone Vineyards to new heights. Anthony’s Austin Cellars wines won broad international acclaim and remain highly sought after collectibles. Anthony brings his vast knowledge and experience to Sonoma Coast Vineyards’ mission of producing exceptional wines from the renowned Sonoma Coast appellation.
By carefully selecting the vineyards and working closely with each grower, Anthony obtains ripe, balanced fruit from these climate-challenged vineyards. His love for his craft, and the character of the appellation, is reflected in every glass of wine he produces.
About The Winemaker:
Anthony Austin, Winemaker and a Founding Partner, directs all of the winemaking for Sonoma Coast Vineyards.
A fourth-generation Sonoma County native, Anthony brings his vast knowledge, incredible artistry and experience to Sonoma Coast Vineyards’ mission of producing exceptional wines from the Extreme Sonoma Coast appellation. By carefully selecting the vineyards and working closely with each grower, Austin obtains ripe, balanced fruit from these climate-challenged vineyards. In 2007 Anthony celebrates his 32nd vintage as a winemaker.
Born and raised in Healdsburg, California, Anthony studied enology at the University of California, Davis, and continued his studies under the legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff. Serving as a consultant to Brooks Firestone on a project in the Santa Inez Valley, Tchelistcheff suggested the talented young Austin as the winemaker for Firestone’s new winery. In 1974, Anthony became the first winemaker at Firestone Vineyards in Santa Barbara. During his ten years as winemaker, he helped to elevate Firestone Vineyards and the Santa Barbara region to new heights. Anthony directed winemaking there from inception to 1983.
Anthony sought to focus his talents on Pinot Noir and to this end, he left Firestone (although he continued to serve as a consultant) to start his own winery: Austin Cellars LLC. His Austin Cellars wines won international acclaim and remain highly sought-after collectibles.
In 2001, Anthony was drawn back to Sonoma County and the cold-climate challenges of the Sonoma Coast. Shortly after his return, Anthony met John and Barbara Drady and joined their efforts in launching the Sonoma Coast Vineyards project.