What We Say 2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
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Top Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: The Coastal Fog
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Uncover the truth behind the greatness of Lynmar Estate’s 2006 Pinot Noir. Infiltrate the winery and capture an ample allocation of cases for our Pinot-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Lynmar Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle
Winery Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s. In today’s wine, Lynmar Estate presents their own delicious take on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir by delivering a wine of bold and delicious character. Read Agent Red’s mission report and tasting noted below for the full intel on this very exciting wine
Read Agent Red’s mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This beautiful-looking wine has the appearance of bright red cherry juice with perfectly concentrated color out to the edges, and perfect clarity through its slightly darker heart. When swirled, the surface of the wine appears ultra-tight and it settles fast, leaving tightly-packed clusters of chubby legs that start high upon the inside of the glass
Smell – On opening, this wine exudes a big rush of bright cherry, strawberry, raspberry and red currant. These are followed by complex earthen notes with brown spice, leather, dark plum and soft dried meat
Feel – Lush and round on entry. Then, after a moment, this wine becomes more full and complex as medium tannins take hold at the edges of the tongue, drying the palate and inside the cheeks and lips
Taste – Bold and balanced, with cleanly fresh-fruit flavors of tart cherry and young strawberry. These flavors are easily entwined with more complex flavors of smoky red plum, dried flowers and earthy minerals and soft cedar
Finish – Ultra long and ultra lush, this wine begins with a tart dryness, then goes dark and dusky with earthen flavors and minerals of slate and spice ofclove and soft cinnamon
Conclusion – Big and delicious, with with flavors that boldly extol the virtues of the Russian River Valley, the Lynmar vineyards and the prowess of winemaker, Hugh Chappelle. The region, the vineyards and the man all come together to contribute to this complex and interesting Pinot Noir, in a way that makes of take keen notice. With a complexity that makes the wine a terrific conversation piece, and a balance that make it not just about its complexity, this wine is as versatile as it is delicious. I enjoyed my sample bottle with a fresh spinach salad with a very garlicky dijon-balsamic and olive oil dressing. I was initially worried that the robust dressing would overpower the wine, but it held up beautifully. In fact, the wine acted as an enhancement to the dressing, cutting through some of the more intense flavors of the dressing and returning my palate to balanced. Decant for best results. Enjoy now or cellar through 2012.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER_
SUBJECT: Hugh Chappelle
DATE OF BIRTH: June, 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH: Mountain View, CA
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chalk Hill, Madrona Vineyards, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Lynmar Estate
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balance and Expression of Site
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Having the opportunity to re-plant Lynmar’s Quail Hill Vineyard with an ideal mix of clones as well as having a hand in the design and outfitting of our new gravity flow winery.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I am proud to continue the Lynmar tradition of impeccably balanced wines that enhance food, age gracefully, and exhibit uncommon grace and elegance.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Hugh. We are thrilled to be showing your Pinot Noir. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
HUGH: It is my pleasure.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
HUGH: Yes, first growing up in a household where wine was part of daily life. My mother is from the Mosel in Germany and there was always a bottle of Riesling in the refrigerator. Second, was answering a “Help Wanted” ad in Student Employment while at UC Santa Cruz and ending up at a small micro-winery up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As chemistry major at the time I thought it very cool to apply my science background in such a creative way. That first exposure catalyzed my later career change from Biotech to winemaking.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
HUGH: Even though I went through graduate studies at UC Davis and have nothing but the highest respect for their program, the bottom line is that I learned the most about winemaking while on the job.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
HUGH: If it could be summed up in word it would be “Balance”. I also place a huge importance on doing as much work in the vineyard as possible so that the winemaking is as natural and straightforward as possible. Balanced wines can be either big and bold, or light and delicate, but they both share the quality of everything being in just the right proportions.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
HUGH: Outside of studying, and drinking, the great classic wines of the world, I would say my short time at Chalk Hill Winery when Dave Ramey was winemaker was a very formative experience. While I went there to gain experience with native/wild yeast fermentations, Dave’s methodical approach to every detail of winemaking, willingness to take risks, and emphasis on wine texture continue to impact my winemaking today.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
HUGH: Full time since 1989, part-time from 1982-1986.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: Obviously, being employed by another winery requires that, at times, I put personal preferences aside and respect house styles, market realities, and other practical aspects of making wine for a living…..and a profit. However, I have been lucky to be at wineries where the owners/proprietors give a fairly free hand to their winemaker. I have always been honored by that trust and responsibility and never take it for granted.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
HUGH: What makes the Russian River so special is our juxtaposition to three Key geographic features: the Pacific Ocean, the Petaluma Wind Gap, and the Russian River itself. In addition, Lynmar’s estate vineyards are further influenced by our proximity to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, one of the largest fresh water wetlands in Northern California. These climatic factors, along with low-moderate vigor well-drained soils give us one of the most perfect environments to grow great Pinot Noir anywhere in the world.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
HUGH: Get practical experience from wineries making the kinds of wines you like, or work at several different kinds of wineries of different sizes making different varieties to see what really resonates with you. While formal schooling is great, and arguably opens more doors, especially at larger wineries, the quality of your work experience is the most important thing for wineries like Lynmar or Flowers.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
HUGH: While you can eat off the floor of our cellar because we keep everything so clean, my office is a bit….”cluttered”. This is a bit of company joke, but what can I say?
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
HUGH: For everyday reds I tend to drink Italian. Barbera’s, Dolcetto’s, and Chianti Classico’s simply cannot be beat for the quality to price ratio…..and they go superbly with a wide range of foods…..especially the Italian foods my girlfriend tends to like to cook. For white I gravitate to Chablis, crisp steely Macon’s, Sancerre, and….of course Riesling.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
HUGH: Trust your own taste! I continue to be amazed that people simply don’t drink what they like and often need confirmation of what they should be drinking. I think it remains a legitimate challenge for our industry to continue demystifying wine without taking away what makes it so special.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
HUGH: A great Musigny or Chambolle Musigny from a top domaine in a great vintage….of course out of magnum!
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
HUGH: Question: So it sounds like your girlfriend’s a cook? Answer: We have to leave something as a mystery.
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!
HUGH: Thanks a lot. Take care!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the gorgeous Lynmar Estate Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Lynmar Estate Winery
Awards & Accolades:
89 POINTS – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, May/June 2008
About This Wine:
The color this year is immediately bright and youthful with an attractive violet hue and a translucence that boldly declares this is not another “over-extracted” Syrah-like Pinot Noir. Aromas begin with an assortment of wonderfully forward red fruits such as pie cherry, strawberry, and cranberry. These upfront fruit characters are accented by complexing notes of baking spice, deeper dark fruits, and orange blossom. There is also a subtle earthiness here that evokes the local coastal forests and the breezes coming in from Pacific….giving this wine a heightened sense of place. On the palate cleansing, “zippy” acidity results in a taut, yet balanced, structure with flavors that truly linger and draw you back. Always enjoyable upon release, this wine will only get better through fall of 2009, and should continue to reward cellaring through 2012.
2006 GROWING SEASON: The 2006 growing season was particularly challenging in the Russian River Valley. Higher humidity during the summer months resulted in greater mildew pressure across the appellation, exacerbated by weather during harvest that provided perfect growing conditions for botrytis, or "noble rot.” Luckily Pinot Noir is an early ripening variety and our vineyard crew did everything right this year. Numerous extra “passes” in our vineyards ensured the area around grape clusters had good air flow and that crop loads were balanced. At the winery, all incoming fruit was rigorously hand-sorted. The bottom line for Lynmar is that we came through a challenging harvest with excellent quality potential. Primary characteristics of the wines from 2006, in general, will be lower than average alcohols and bright natural acidity. This is a vintage that will play very well to Lynmar’s balanced, elegant house style.
WINEMAKING: Winemaking for our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir lots is focused on capturing fruit and moderating extraction to yield components of great perfume, yet balanced and with elegant structure. Fruit was hand picked early in the morning and transported to the winery while still cool, then hand-sorted before being gently de-stemmed and transferred without pumping into small (2.5 and 5 ton) open-top fermenters. The fruit was then cold-soaked for 3 to 7 days at 50°F before allowing native yeast fermentations to begin. Fermentations were gently punched down by hand 2 to 4 times per day. Total skin contact in 2006 ranged from 9 -16 days depending on the objective for each lot. Wines were then put into barrels where the secondary, malolactic fermentation occurred over the next several months. Racking was minimal, with aging on light lees until the final blend was assembled for bottling. This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered.
About The Winery:
Lynn Fritz, an expert in global logistics and humanitarian relief efforts, and family purchased the estate Quail Hill Vineyard in 1980 and, in 1990, founded Lynmar Winery to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reflecting the character of the Russian River Valley appellation, and terroir of Quail Hill Vineyard. Our first commercial wines were released in 1996 with the 1994 vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Our 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard estate has long been recognized as a stellar vineyard in the region, and has superb qualities for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Once a source for some of the top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers in the region, today, the estate is the exclusive source for our Lynmar Reserve and Estate wines, as well as the foundation of our appellation-designated wines.
Balance, both in the vineyard and winemaking, governs the Lynmar philosophy. Led by winemaker Hugh Chappelle, our winemaking team starts in the vineyard; managing vine-by-vine to optimize even fruit ripening, quality and balance. In the winery, Hugh prefers to let Mother Nature do the work. He handles the wine as little as possible and, again, strives to achieve balanced tannins, fruit qualities and natural acidity. The result is our characteristic Lynmar style; wines with character, full berry flavors and balanced qualities reflecting our estate Quail Hill Vineyard.
Lynmar Estate celebrates the distinctive terroir of the various vineyards we farm creating wines that are elegant, complex, balanced, and age worthy. Acting as stewards of the land, the winemaking team takes great care to craft wines that truly represent the dynamic, cool-climate soils from the vineyards where the grapes are grown. A genuine mosaic of the land, the people, the food and the synergy of place at Lynmar Estate is revealed in each vintage. While select lots from Lynmar’s 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard home estate form an important component of this bottling, the winery also works closely with a small group of local growers who share its commitment to quality, creating a fruit-forward wine that is a benchmark of its famous appellation.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle
Aging: 14 mo. in small (60 gal.) French oak Barrels (35% new)
Consulting Winemaker: Paul Hobbs
Consulting Viticulturist: Greg Adams
Cases Produced: 3,196 (12×750ml) cases
Bottling Date: December 12-14, 2007