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2013 Occidental Wines Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
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“If the Kistler Winery could be magically transported to the middle of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, it would quickly gain a reputation as glorious as any producer of Burgundy grand crus.” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
Kistler Vineyard is a cult Californian winemaker famous for its full-blown, yet elegant chardonnay style.
Founded in 1978, the vineyards owned and farmed by the Kistler family stretch from western Sonoma County to just north of the San Francisco bay. Kistler wines have a reputation for being meticulously formulated in order to produce wonderful mineral wines of intense focus, and natural balance. The notoriously exclusive Kistler wines have always been highly sought after, but over the last ten years many wine enthusiasts claim that the vineyard has been coming into its own – producing wines of harmony and distinction, as well as power.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
This low-lying valley Sonoma County in and its 10,000 acres of vineyards was virtually unknown before 1983, when it was granted official appellation status (Russian River Valley AVA).
It has since established a formidable reputation as a prime spot for challenging varieties like Pinot Noir (29% of the acreage in 2007), which thrives in this cool-climate region. Chardonnay (42% of the acreage in 2007) has also blossomed here, showing a signature lean and restrained profile.
The Russian River Valley climate is influenced by cooling fogs, drawn inland from the Pacific. This natural air-conditioning allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity over an extended growing season, while retaining their life-giving natural acidity.