What We Say 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: The Filigreen Pedigree
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Segue Cellars and recover some of their limited production BioDynamic 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Segue Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Anderson Valley Filigreen Vineyard Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Stephen Yafa
The Anderson Valley AVA in Mendocino County runs long the Anderson River, which flows northwest from near Boonville towards Navarro. The west side of the Anderson River rises to a region known as the Mendocino ridge, a higher elevation aspect than much of the inland wine growing regions in Mendocino County. It is one of California’s coolest wine growing regions with the climate most influenced by proximity coast. The region is also well known for having a diverse alluvial soil structure that supports a wide variety of grapes.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy with ruby and violet reflections through its deep clear core. Along the edges, the color remains violet and when swirled, this wine leaves random clusters of slow legs that thin as they descend to the wine below.
Smell – Medium bold in aromatics with focused herbal red cherry and raspberry fruit leading the way. Layers of floral violet, subtle dried mint leaves, earthy forest and a hint of leather emerge upon further exploration of the nose.
Feel – Smooth and dry, with silky fine grained tannins and bright but balanced acidity are interwoven with a slight dusty minerality that spreads over the palate and lingers into the finish.
Taste – Vibrant and youthful fruit flavors of red and black cherry along with tart raspberry are integrated with herbal and earthy notes. Spice, vanilla and and oak linger under the fruit and mix with this wine’s minerality.
Finish – Medium to long in length, this wine’s lingering minerality, oak, spice and bright fruit spread over the palate tempting another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Segue Cellars Anderson Valley Filigreen Vineyard Pinot Noir is a delicious and focused Pinot Noir that shows vivid fruit and a unique herbal and earthy character. Great minerality along with this wine’s finely textured tannins and acidity makes this wine great for pairing with food. Enjoy a bottle now, but be sure to stash a few away in the cellar as a few years in the bottle with definitely benefit this wine as it integrates and evolves.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Stephen Yafa
DATE OF BIRTH: 5/41
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lowell, Mass
WINE EDUCATION: No formal wine education. I’ve apprenticed to artisan winemakers, and learned what I know over the course of twenty-plus years making a variety of wines with friends, and now commercially. The best teachers by far are the vines themselves. When they’re happy there’s an excellent chance they’ll produce wine that makes you happy. That doesn’t happen by chance, in my experience as winemaker and now a vineyard owner.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: The name of my winery says it all: Segue. I segued from being a writer about wine—among other things— for Wine Enthusiast, Saveur Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle and numerous other publications to making my own commercial Pinot Noir in 2005. In the process I became a cellar rat for one crush to learn from the ground up. I spent hours in the vineyard with Pinot Noir master Greg LaFollette learning about correcting mineral deficiencies, leafing, pruning, leaf architecture, all those things that take huge amounts of time and labor to do right, but pay off in the glass. Shortcuts? I wish. A full accounting of my leap into the fermentation tank, so to speak, can be found at http://www.seguecellars.com/about.htm. Click on “Going Pro”, a 3-part series I wrote for Wines&Vines. It includes an episode where I get locked in the barrel room of DeLoach Vineyards at night. It could have been worse. I was surrounded by 5000 gallons of delicious vino.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Pinot Noir is a delicate lady with many hidden talents. Do not force yourself on her, encourage her to reveal her talents and attributes in her own time, naturally, and be thankful for the gifts she delivers to those who treat her with respect.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir, if that’s not already apparent. I love the Russian River Valley’s earthy, cola complexity, and the lively black fruit of the Anderson Valley, Mendocino single-vineyard biodynamically grown Pinot that I make from Filigreen Vineyards.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: I was invited to pour my organic, biodynamically grown ‘07 Filigreen at an exclusive donor’s event at the Chicago Public Library honoring author Michael Pollan. The Segue Russian River received a 93 score from the Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine, and those guys are tough. I know. I’ve tasted with them. By the way, they taste blind. They’d even give their own wives a low score if they happened to make wine that didn’t meet their standards—and yes, probably wind up sleeping in the car.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: One of my Pinots tied for second among women out of 355 entries into the ‘08 Pinot Summit Shootout. It placed 5th among men.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ” As in life, love, and the Tao, in wine balance is everything.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Steve. We are thrilled to be showing your Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Hit me with your hardest.
RED: Don’t worry, Steve, I’ll go easy on you. This time.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
STEVE: On the ground, running. Also from interviewing hundreds of winemakers as a journalist.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
STEVE: Aside from Gevrey-Chambertin, and closer to home, a few of the “sauvage” Pinots made by Greg LaFollette for his winery, Tandem. Greg makes wine in a style, that in the words of another winemaker, is like standing on the corner waiting for the next accident to happen. By which he means that if you make unfiltered, unfined Pinot Noir, you are inviting Brett and every other contaminating yeast and bacterial strain to run you over. True enough. But if you succeed you come out with a wine that delivers an infinite mouthful and noseful of Pinot character. And that’s what I do. I play on the edge, where the stakes are high and the rewards are , to me, worth the risk. So far, no accidents—and if I see one looming I know who to call—Greg.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
STEVE: Informally—over 25 years; commercially, 4 years.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
STEVE: Myself. Only.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
STEVE: Russian River follow the fog. Cool foggy nights and mornings Goldridge volcanic, well-drained soil = earthy, loamy, cola-scented Pinot Noir. Anderson Valley: marine-influences organically rich soil = pure dark berry fruit, Indian spices.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
STEVE: Have a rich father-in-law who wants to keep his daughter happy.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
STEVE: Getting my ‘08 Filigreen in shape; smoke taint from forest fires contaminated a lot of ‘08 Mendocino wines. I’m just about clear of it now.
RED: Challenging! Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
STEVE: It’s non-filtered, non-fined; it’s Russian River all the way for better or worse. Forest floor, bright fruit, dense, and it keeps on giving and changing as you work your way through a bottle.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
STEVE: This Segue like all my wines, is meant to be drunk with food. That’s why there’s enough acid in it to make it mouth-watering and non-competitive with what you’re eating. It’s meant to accompany salmon, light cheese and chicken dishes, mushroom dishes, even veal. I don’t recommend drinking it with spicy foods or tomato-based entrees. A mushroom risotto or halibut with a minced hazelnut crust? Mais oui.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
STEVE: I am working my way back to being a teenager as I get older. I now fly down trails on my mountain bike again and alpine ski my ass off as fast as possible. It’s not on the menu for recommended after-50 activities.
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
STEVE: A brambly Zin or Montepulciano with pasta. Pinot with everything else I eat. I eat only veggies and fish, so my palate is limited for wines with food. I love opulent Cabs and such; I just don’t drink them daily. Whites: Honig Sauvignon Blanc. A Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner. And the sleeper-rosés. Lymar Winery in particular, also Spanish grenache-based (granacia) rosés.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
STEVE: Sip by sip, smile by smile.
RED: Excellent advice. If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
STEVE: Jean-Louis Trapet ‘04 Gevrey Chambertin Clos Ostrea
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
STEVE: Is it an act of pure folly or enlightened passion for a wine writer to segue into making his own commercial wine? In other words, does love conquer all? Only in the movies. In the vineyard and winery diligence and hard work do the heavy lifting, but to make a delicious wine that sings in the mouth and embraces your senses like a warm hug, ah, yes, that’s worth all the effort and more.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
STEVE: As a writer, you generally massage people’s heads before you touch their hearts. Making a wine, that sequence in exactly reversed. Vive la difference.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Filigreen Vineyard is located near Boonville, CA which can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
I’m especially proud that my 2007 Segue Filigreen Vineyard is the first eco-friendly, purely chemical-free wine produced from an Anderson Valley, Mendocino single vineyard Pinot Noir. It is created only from grapes grown without any synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. Juicy, full of pure, ripe red and black berry flavors and intensely flavorful, the Filigreen Vineyard has been fermented with wild yeast and aged for 11 months in premium French oak. It come from the vineyard of Chris and Stephanie Tebbutt, who grow all their fruit—grapes, blueberries, peaches and more— using Biodynamic techniques that ensure that everything is produced organically in harmony with nature’s cycles. The vines love it! They flourish, grow hearty and deliver luscious juice that I carefully handcraft into layered Pinot Noir with as little manipulation as possible. Minimal sulfites are added to prevent spoilage, and that’s it. The Filigreen Vineyard’s bright, juicy red cherry vibrancy balances its luxurious dark berry lushness, while a hint of earthy molasses adds depth, making this wine a mouth-watering complement to food.
About The Winery:
Pinot Noir for me is a miraculous journey. It begins with a bud the size of a pea and ends with a glorious wine unmatched for its silky texture , subtle layers of aroma and delicious flavors. For Segue’s 2007 vintage I am proud to be releasing my first organic, pesticide-free Pinot Noir made from grapes grown at Filigreen Vineyard in Anderson Valley, Mendocino — as well as my Russian River blend. Full of bright, pure berry liveliness, the eco-friendly Filigreen is also the first single-vineyard release of this Pinot. I’ve already harvested three time as much for 2008, it’s impressed me that much.
Using Burgundian winemaking techniques (no fining or filtering), I shape my wines to fully express the elegant, tantalizing character of the delicate Pinot Noir fruit; at its best it exquisitely balances bright berry acidity and deeply satisfying lushness. Like a smooth transition between sunset and twilight or musical movements, all the wine I make is created to segue fluently from grape to glass.
The Segue Story:
I call my new label “Segue” to reflect my transition from wine lover and writer to commercial winemaker—not recommended for the faint of heart. In this three-part series for Wines & Vines magazine, I describe the journey.
Going Pro: Part One
I knew I was in trouble. I was a man with graying hair who had just come through a health crisis… but all I cared about at the moment, standing in the pouring rain, high on a narrow aluminum catwalk suspended across an open-top fermenter that held 10,000 pounds of mashed grapes, was summoning the strength seeds and fruit pulp, more than a foot thick, that formed a tight, cement-hard seal above the juice….
Going Pro: Part Two
They sounded like the starting lineup for the French soccer team—Demptos, Cadus, Remond, Damy, Billon— the guys who Zinedine Zidane left out to dry when he head-butted his way to a red flag ejection in that unforgettable World Cup championship. Seasoned winemakers know otherwise….
Going Pro: Part Three
The guy on the other side of the desk in his cramped office high above Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco was waiting to taste one of the thousand or more wines he’d sampled in the past eleven months. Seated directly across from him, I removed a full bottle of Segue Cellars ’05 RRV Pinot Noir from my shoulder bag, produced a corkscrew, and proceeded to pour a small amount into the two burgundy glasses he placed before me…
Appellation: Anderson Valley, Mendocino, CA
Winemaking: Unfined, native yeast
Total Acidity: 5.85 g/L
Barreling: 40% new French oak; 12 months in barrel
Vineyard sources: 100% pesticide-free Pinot Noir
Case Production: 140 cases bottled August, 2008