Inman Family Wines
2006 Thorn Ridge Ranch Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir •Thorn Ridge Ranch Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
We know you’d never buy just one Pinot Noir this year, but if you did, this would be one to consider – carefully. Today’s wine is an extraordinary delight
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Mission Codename: All Roses
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Wine Spies favorite, Inman Family Wines, and secure a fantastic Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Inman Family Wines
Wine Subject: 2006 Thorn Road Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Kathleen Inman
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, Inman Family Wines presents their own delicious take on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir by delivering a wine of distinction and delicious character. Read Agent Red’s mission report and tasting noted below for the full intel on this very exciting wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and deep-looking, with perfect clarity through its darker heart. This wine shows off deep garnet hues, a softly bouncy surface. After swirling, this wine leaves behind an initial round of tightly clustered legs. This is soon followed by a second round of legs that start high up the edges of the glass
Smell – An earthen nose with big fruit and forest floor aromas. Cherry, blackberry, blueberries, black tea, soft leather and dried meats combine with smoky spices and toasted wood that all combine in lovely to make this wine a delight to inhale
Feel – Cool and light on the initial attack, then the wine simply unfolds on your palate, revealing a medium-bodied character to go along with it’s soft, gradual tannins
Taste – Concentrated and delicious, with balanced bright/dark flavors of dark cherry, ripe plum, India black tea, cedar, leather, dried meats, soft spice and soft forest floor
Finish – Big flavors and a full mouthfeel linger on for a long time after you sip this wine, leading to a soft, subtle and darkly spiced ending that shows off real cinnamon stick
Conclusion – Dear Kathleen Inman, of all of your wines – those that we have had the pleasure to taste to date, this wine stands out as the best one yet! This wine deserves very special attention today, as one of the best Pinot Noir I have tried in a long while. Dark and delicious, this wine delivers great character and dark, dusky flavors – along with ripe dark fruits and an earthen profile that reminds me of French Burgundy. I found this Pinot delicious, right out of the bottle, but it benefits from extended decanting. It’s drinking beautifully, right now, but it will lay down for at least the next several years 10 years, rewarding the patient wine drinker
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Kathleen Inman
DATE OF BIRTH: [REDACTED]
PLACE OF BIRTH: Angwin (formerly Sanitarium) CA, (Napa Valley)
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
AGENT RED: Greetings, Karthleen. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Thorn Ranch Ridge Pinot Noir today. I totally love the wine! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Thank you for seeking us out and offering our Thorn to your Operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: I grew up in the Napa Valley, but in a family that did not consume alcohol. It was not until I went away to UC Santa Barbara and eventually did a wine tasting class that I “discovered” wine. At the end of the first class, when they removed the bags from the bottles, I remember saying, “gee, they make these where I come from!”. I was fascinated that the same grape could taste so different when grown in different locations and moreover, even grapes from the same area could be so different when handled by different winemakers. Since then, wine has been endlessly fascinating for me.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
WINEMAKER: On the job in my first position in Napa and then via the extension program at UC Davis and by volunteering for friends at their wineries and through the mentoring.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
WINEMAKER: I try and makes wines as naturally as I can. My goal is to grow and make wines that reflect the vintage and place they were grown. I believe that adding water, acid, tannins or enzymes or removing alcohol should be reserved as tools for correcting mistakes, not standard protocols. In general, I try to make wines with lower alcohol, by picking when the fruit is ripe but not overly ripe. This also results in higher natural acids in the wines. I farm my own vineyard organically and I encourage the growers I work with to compost and to use farming techniques that minimize the impact on air, water and soil.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: Our dear family friend, Tim Marshall, in Nuits St Georges, who own six premiere cru vineyards in the Cote de Nuits provided invaluable advice on viticulture and winemaking before I launched my own brand. He also has been generous over the years in introducing me to other winemakers in Burgundy. Here in California, Kevin Hamel, who I think makes outstanding Syrah, was my mentor in the first years I began making wine and I will always be grateful to him for his wisdom and patience.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
WINEMAKER: I made the first Pinot Gris in 2002 and the first Pinot Noir in 2003, although I first worked in a winery back in 1983, in my native Napa Valley.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: It sounds a bit self-centered, but I make it for me – and then hope that others will appreciate it. Winemaking at the “micro” quantities I do is most similar to an artistic undertaking.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Russian River Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: Even though I am a 4th generation Napa, I had to move to Sonoma County, and particularly the Russian River Valley because I think it is an exceptional place to grow Pinot Noir. The pronounced cooling influence of the fog is one of the keys.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: I am very busy managing the building of a small winery and tasting room at our Olivet Grange vineyard at the corner of Olivet and Piner Roads, west of Santa Rosa. The building will be the embodiment of my eco-ethics: the steel for the frame is made of recycled cars, the walls and ceiling are highly insulated (R30 and 38 respectively) the roof is “cool” and therefore offers further energy savings, the operations will all be solar powered, all of the process waste water will be recycled on site and used for irrigation for the vineyard and our organic vegetable garden. The floors are all concrete, but where tiles are required (kitchen and bathrooms) the tiles are made of recycled pottery, the counters of the tasting bar are recycled wine bottles and recycled concrete…every detail I have considered and where possible have chosen local made materials that use high levels of recycled content.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
WINEMAKER: The Thorn is from a beautiful vineyard called Thorn Ridge Ranch which is farmed by Ted Klopp and his family. The vineyard sits high upon a ridge, above the fog line/inversion layer at the southern and western extreme of the Russian River Valley Appellation. It was designated Sonoma Coast until 2005 when the boundaries were changed. I think of it as a real hybrid of the two – it has the racy acidity and tannins of Sonoma coast, but the fruit and texture of the Russian River. Truly a unique vineyard.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: I love this wine with slowly braised meat. It is particularly tasty with my favorite short-rib recipe and lamb shanks cooked with Moroccan spices. There are recipes on my website www.inmanfamilywines.com under “Perfect Pairings”
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
WINEMAKER: That I am not a wine geek. I am just a hedonist when it comes to wine…no tasting notes, no scores or reviews, I just like to enjoy it!
RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
WINEMAKER: Our own “Endless Crush” Rose of Pinot Noir is our house wine.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
WINEMAKER: I LOVE champagne.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
WINEMAKER: What made you decide to get into the wine business? My answer,_ Temporary insanity_!
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!
WINEMAKER: Thank you, Agent Red.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Although our label reads Thorn Road, this 2006 wine is made from the Klopp family’s Thorn Ridge Ranch. Prior to bottling there were unresolved trademark issues surrounding the name, so we went with Thorn Road. These have now been resolved and once again we will be able to refer to this lovely vineyard by its proper name. Farmed by Ted Klopp with sustainable practices, it is located high in the Sebastopol Hills, in an area which had previously been designated Sonoma Coast, but is now part of the expanded Russian River Valley appellation. The character of the fruit is neither typical Russian River nor typical Sonoma Coast. The deep dark berry profile is the result of the steep east facing aspect high above the fog line and the goldridge soils. The clones are Pommard, Swan, 667 and 777 and are from the upper and lower parts of the ranch.
Aroma: Blackberry, blueberry, black tea, earth, dried mushroom and sandalwood.
Color: Bright garnet, ruby core
Tasting Notes: Tangy sour cherry, baked blueberries, fresh blackberries, savory roasted meat, sage and black tea. Nice tannins, to match the pretty fruit and high acid. Should age very well. Long tasty finish.
Production Notes: Harvest of both the upper and lower ranch took place on September 25, 2006, in what has come to be known as “Operation Firefly”. Ted Klopp and his picking team arrived at the vineyard at 2am; the pickers donned headlamps and began to harvest to take advantage of the cool tmeperatures. The higher elevation of the Thorn Ranch means that there is no fog layer to keep it cool in the morning, so as soon as the sun rises, it begins to warm up. Sadly, because of the night pick, not as much of the Botrytis rot was cut out as might have been the case in the day which lead to serious triage at the winery. Nevertheless, looking across the vineyard that morning was like looking at a swarm of fireflies buzzing in the vineyard. By 5:30 am, this was the view from the vineyard as we were loading the trucks for the winery. Amazing!
Winemaking Notes: The fruit was destemmed and fermented in open-top 5-ton stainless steel tanks. Because of Botrytis, the wine was not cold soaked and the must was adjusted with acidulated water to reduce the effects of the Botrytis (which rasied the sugar in excess of 30 degrees BRIX in the fermenter) and ease the fermentation. The wine was pressed off when dry and aged in a combination of new, one year and two year old French barrels: about 50% was new. The wine was blended to tank in February 2007 and then returned barrel, to finish the 11 month elevage. The wines were kept on their lees, even after blending, and stirred weekly between October and February. The wines were filtered by crossflow and bottled on August 21, 2007.
About The Winery:
At Inman Family Wines we handcraft small lots of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir . The estate wines reflect the unique imprint of our Olivet Grange Vineyard, located amidst some of Sonoma County’s and the Russian River Valley’s most respected vineyards. We are committed to quality from grape to glass – from our environmentally sensitive, organic and sustainable viticultural practices to our attention to detail in the winemaking.
Our dream has been to grow and produce balanced wines that complement and enhance food and conversation. Whether you enjoy our wines in one of the many fine restaurants serving Inman Family wines or buy them online, we invite you to share our dream. We are now open for private tastings by appointment, so please contact us if you are in the neighborhood.
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Aging: 11 months sur lies aging in French Oak