Monday, October 3, 2016

Single-Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

The Owsley Single Block Pinot Noir 2014 is the latest in Sonoma-Cutrer's Winemaker's Release Series. It's an estate bottled, Russian River Valley Pinot that has alcohol at 14.3% abv - a little lofty for my Pinot money - and retails for $50.

Sonoma-Cutrer notes that their Director of Winemaking, Mick Schroeter, "wanted to explore the effect on the wine if you controlled all of the terroir elements while applying unique winemaking practices." He opted to refine the single-vineyard selection to a single block of grapes within a vineyard. The terroir of the Russian River Valley is well-known to Pinot lovers. That marine layer that rolls in almost daily keeps the region cool, the way Pinot Noir likes it. The grapes come from the K Top block, which they say is the lowest-yielding block of the ten that make up the 90-acre estate.

The wine was fermented three different ways - oak tank, stainless steel tank and new French oak barrels. The winery says of their wood that the oak has been under their control since they first sourced it from the Gauthier family three decades ago.

The barrel aging for this wine was done in one-third each new, once-used, and twice-used French oak. The wines sit for 16 months, then are blended. Another eight months of bottle-aging follows.

This Pinot is Sonoma, to be sure. It is rich, with a nose displaying blueberries, chocolate, tea bags and anise. The palate is full with a sincere acidity on the dark fruit, sweet spice and leathery notes. I want to call it brawny, but that would be going a step too far. There is certainly an undeniable strength, but also a gentle elegance that keeps the muscle in check.