2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •O’Neel Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
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Mission Codename: The Russian Gambit
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate rumors that Adobe Road is close to selling out of their fabled O’Neel Vineyard Russian River Pinot Noir. If true, secure an allocation and make it available to our Operatives before the wine sells out
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Adobe Road Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 O’Neel Vineyard Russian River Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Michael Scorsone
Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County is attracting great attention from wine lover’s around the world. Why? The quality of the fruit produced here is usually exceptional. Today’s wine, from Adobe Road Winery, sets a new standard for quality and value. Recently, The Wine Spies learned that Adobe Road was running low on their excellent Pinot Noir. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Sparkling clear ruby red with glittering pink edges and perfect clarity. The appears springy, and it settles fast after swirling, revealing sparkling pink edges and leaving behind tightly-packed and long, fat legs
Smell – Intriguing and aromatic with bold red cherry, black tea, raspberry, gunpowder and soft oak, with a subtle hint of tomato vine
Feel – Light and very soft, round and velvety up front, then grippy, slightly tight and cool with supple tannins that take a moment to emerge
Taste – A delicious layering of mix of bright cherry, strawberry, soft spice, sweetwoods, tea, soft white pepper and oaky vanilla
Finish – Starts sweet and then shows slightly tart as flavors and feel tail off – only to reveal follow-on flavors of soft cedar and lightest white pepperConclusion – This could just be our favorite Adobe Road wine yet! No wonder it has been difficult to get our hands on their Pinots in the past. It is obvious, now, why they have been in such great demand. If you love fantastic Pinot Noir, we suggest that you stock up on this wine. This beautiful and elegant wine has great aromatics, a fantastic feel and delicious flavors. It is sure to impress anyone that you serve it to. Perfect as a companion for most meals, this wine has enough acidity and elegance to make it a _compliment _ rather than a competitor to your best pairings. With its own character and complexity, I really enjoyed this wine on its own, as well.
For today’s mission I had the great luck to spend some time with Adobe Road’s winemaker, Michael Scorsone. What follows is a condensed transcription of our meeting at Adobe Road Winery
AGENT RED: Michael! Over here!
MICHAEL SCORSONE: Agent Red, welcome!
RED: Thanks, Michael. Finally, we meet.
MICHAEL: Really. Thanks for being such a big fan of our wines.
RED: All of us at Wine Spies HQ are fans, in fact. I noticed that you said, “our wines”. There is a real emphasis on team here at Adobe Road, am I right?
MICHAEL: Yes. Kevin Buckler [Adobe Road Winery owner] is a team builder. From his roots in Porsche racing, Kevin understand the value of strong teams. No single person is more important than another. This philosophy allowed us to build a stellar winemaking team.
RED: You do have an amazing team. Between Kevin, yourself, and John Jones – formerly of Opus One – you guy’s are world class. It really shows in your wines.
RED: We did a deep background investigation on you Michael. Tell me if I have this all right: Born of Italian roots, you grew up around winemaking, with your Italian-born father and uncles making their own wines. After you graduated from culinary school, you worked as a world-class chef for a couple of years. During that time you were, of course, exposed to fine wine.
MICHAEL: Doing good so far!
RED: As you became more intrigued by wine, you left cooking to learn about wine growing and winemaking. You spent time as a cellar rat in California, before spending a season in Northern Italy. There, you were exposed to old world techniques, as well as vineyards and farming practices that predated America by hundreds of years.
MICHAEL: Wow. Where do you get all of your information?!
RED: I could tell you, but, you know… Flash forward to today, where you lead winemaking for Adobe Road Winery. The techniques in farming and winemaking are carried over into your winemaking today. Let me ask you an important question: Who do you make your wines for?
MICHAEL: For myself, of course! (laughs) I know that if I love the wine, so, too, will Adobe Roads faithful fans!
RED: Tell me about your winemaking style.
MICHAEL: I make varietally correct wines. That is, I make wines that allow the varietal and vineyard to shine through. Many of today’s wines are over-driven, they’re pushed very hard to have a ton of punch. Our approach is more minimalist; We believe in letting the personality of the grape and the vineyard shine through.
RED: What’s the saying that you have here in the winery?
MICHAEL: How do you know about that?! Let me guess, you could tell me…
RED: But, yeah…
MICHAEL: (laughs) Our saying is, “It is what it is. Just let it be.” This guiding principal means that we allow the wine to have its own personality, rather than forcing it to express something that its not.
RED: Cheers to that! Tell me, Michael, about the O’Neel vineyard, where your 2006 Pinot Noir was born.
MICHAEL: What a great vineyard. Near your Sebastopol safehouse if I’m not mistaken.
RED: (in hushed tones) Umm, you’re not supposed to know where our safehouse is…
MICHAEL: Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Anyway, the Pinot clones at O’Neel are my favorites to work with. they grow some of the best 777, 115 and Pomard. The fruit from O’Neel has great color and is later ripening. It has great stem maturity, which allows for whole-cluster fermentation. A technique that lets us extract additional vineyard character into the wine.
RED: This wine has great character. Really ripe and delicious, with a real elegance.
MICHAEL: We love it.
RED: Yeah, so do we. Before I let you get back to work, tell me, what’s happening in your world right now?
MICHAEL: Well, we’re ramping up for bottling now. Soon, we’ll bottle up Petite Sirah, Zin and our ’06 Cabernet Sauvignon. They are all developing beautifully in barrel, see? (Michael points to a tall stack of barrels)
RED: Nice! And after bottling?
MICHAEL: Ahhh, then its out into the vineyards to spend time with our farmers – out among the grapes!
RED: Sounds great, Michael. Thanks for taking some time out to chat with me.
MICHAEL: My pleasure. Please send my regards to your Operatives.
RED: I shall. Until our next infiltration, be well, Michael.
MICHAEL: Thanks, you, too!
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – San Diego International Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Enticing aromas of red cherries, cedar and spice, this is an incredibly elegant pinot noir filled with expressive cherry fruit, white pepper and wafts of light vanillin flavors on the palate. Perfectly balanced for sipping yet spectacular with herb-crusted lamb, slow-cooked roasts, tenderloins of pork swathed in a fruit glaze, or cranberry-stuffed turkey.
Winemaking: Hand harvested whole clusters that were cold soaked and fermented in small, open-top bins that were punched down twice daily through fermentation and gently basket pressed.
About The Winery:
Adobe Road is a small, family-owned winery located in Petaluma. We specialize in flavorful, distinctive wines. Each of our vintages is handcrafted with fine attention to detail, for a unique taste and experience. Our wines are created in small lots, allowing precise quality control to ensure that every bottle is just the way our wine artisans intended. Traditionally, Adobe Road has produced rich red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, but 2006 brings a lighter Sauvignon Blanc to our tasting room.
Adobe Road Winery is owned by renowned sports car racer and entrepreneur Kevin Buckler and his wife, Debra. Adobe Road Winery produces award winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Petite Sirah exclusively from Sonoma County sources. The tasting room is located in Petaluma, California. In 1995 Kevin founded The Racer’s Group (TRG) and grew it into an internationally prominent manufacturer and distributor of performance Porsche parts, while simultaneously building a career as a successful endurance sportscar racer and team owner. Kevin’s accomplishments as a driver include class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (2002) and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans (2002), an overall win at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (2003), and the title of Porsche World Cup Champion in 2002. As a team owner, Kevin has directed the growth of The Racer’s Group into an internationally-acclaimed racing team.
With friends, the Bucklers started making “garage wine”, which, after prodding from enthusiastic friends started commercially bottling under the Adobe Road label in 1999. Through Kevin’s good connections, he has acquired grapes from some very prestigious vineyards, which he handcrafts into extremely limited-production wines. The awards have followed, with the Adobe Road 2001 Zinfandel winning a Silver medal in the prestigious Orange County Fair Wine Competition. In March of 2005, Adobe Road brought home the gold, with the 2002 Pinot Noir winning a Gold Medal – Best of Class; the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon placing Silver and the 2002 Zinfandel receiving Bronze at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. With the goal of producing exceptional wines by hand-crafting small lots of red varietals exclusively from Sonoma County, the Bucklers have dedicated themselves to seeing their vision through to reality, and the results are paying off.
Appellation: Russian River, O’Neel Vineyard
Barrel Aging: 14 months in 100% French Oak
Release: July 2008
Bottled: May 29, 2008
Production: 250 cases
Analysis: Alcohol 15.1%