With Columbus Day this month and Thanksgiving next month, we can think about celebrating our fall American holidays with a legend of American wine.
Gary Farrell started making wine in the Russian River Valley in the 80s. It’s an area where the fog and breezes help both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excel. Theresa Heredia has been the winemaker there since 2012, and I recently tasted through some of Gary Farrell’s Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs with her. It was stunning to taste the difference when you drink them side by side – not an affordable task for everyone but it really helps you understand your palate when you do side-by-side tastings.
Depending on the soil and the various climates, we went from light and floral to relatively heavy and lush. My highlights (all around $65-75):
- 2016 Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley: This was actually one of my favorites. A lean style with more focus on the Red cherry, raspberry, and cola fruit. And as Theresa noted, it also had notes of “sexy spice box.”
- 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview: This had much deep color, tannins, and blackberry fruit. Using more whole cluster grape bunches, it was also more savory with lots of backbone.
- 2016 Hallberg Dijon, Russian River Valley (Green Valley): Delicate and earthy with a cool oolong tea note, tree bark, and some tobacco.
- 2016 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Petaluma Gap: Lift of black cherry, light purple florals and a hint of funk. The tannins are softer and the acidity is lighter.