ValleyFogBlog


Latest Press Reviews for 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

December 15, 2011

Our 2009 vintage has received a warm reception from both consumers and the trade that we have poured for over the last few months. Seeing Pinot Noir fans react positively to our wines at our tasting tables or wine shop owners or sommeliers is always gratifying – we like seeing smiles, wistful far-off-looks and the occasional welling up of tears in the eyes. Add some well-chosen words, and things get really poetic.

So it’s also rewarding to have our wines go through blind tastings by respected members of the wine trade media. Our 2009 Pinot Noir lineup has recently received some favorable reviews, including 90+ point ratings in Wine Enthusiast‘s December 15, 2011 issue. The best part of these reviews is always the descriptors. Wine writers are in the profession for a reason – they are good with words.

Here is a sample of the recent reviews from Wine Enthusiast:

  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills: 92 points. “Ripe fruit, in the form of raspberries, cherries and figs, characterizes this luscious Pinot. But it has much more going for it than that. The tannins are rich and complex, the finish is dry and spicy, and the overall impression is of wine with a great pedigree. Drink over the next six years.”
  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Amber Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley: 90 points.  “Classic coastal California Pinot, dry, silky and complex. So easy to like, gliding across the palate with raspberry, cherry, Canadian bacon and smoky sandalwood flavors that are filled with umami richness. Best over the next four years.”

    Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Hayley Vineyard, Anderson Valley: 90 points. “Delivers plenty of rich Pinot flavor from the great Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Raspberries, cherries, pomegranates, Dr. Pepper cola, spices and sandalwood flood the mouth, wrapped into a silky texture. Nice now, although it could develop bottle complexity over the next 3–4 years.”

Wine Enthusiast also gave our 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir 90 points, with the following description: “raspberries, cherries, vanilla, cinnamon spice and sandalwood wash over the palate, just delicious.”

The Deer Meadows also made it on the short list of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir wines reviewed by Jon Bonne in the San Francisco Chronicle in October.  It ranked as one of the 11 best out of over 40 bottles tasted, and received the following review:

This San Francisco label tapped an impressive parcel – the site at 1,600-feet elevation farmed by Richard Savoy that was the source of Littorai’s One Acre bottle. Eucalyptus-driven and piney; it’s chewy and more of a forest-driven wine, with lots of bright citrus to finish.

As we like to say, we love our wines, but we love it when others love our wines, too! And if you want to try all of our wines, we recently released a couple of multi-packs. We have a Fifth Vintage 5-Pack to celebrate the five different Pinots we made in our fifth vintage and we have a Mendocino County 3-Pack for for all of our Mendocino and Anderson Valley Pinots. Both are priced with a package discount, so enjoy!



Fall Release Now Available: 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

2009 Oppenlander Pinot Noir

At long last the wait is over. It’s always the hardest part of wine making. You get excited about a particular vintage and how the wines will turn out, but the wines need time. Time to evolve, time to settle down, time to open up. And the time is now as we are excited to release our Waits-Mast Family Cellars lineup of 2009 Pinot Noir wines.

2009 was a very favorable growing year, as many wine writers have noted, and there was a lot of great pinot noir available that year. We ended up sourcing fruit from five different vineyards, from as far south as Sta. Rita Hills and as far north as Comptche, CA. Here is the lineup, with links to tasting notes and specs on each one:

2009 La Encantada Pinot Noir

The joy of this lineup is that it is a diverse portfolio of wines, each representing the style and personality of the vineyard and the region. The Sta. Rita Hills pinot screams central coast with its bright acidity, amazing structure and cranberry tartness. The Russian River pinot is fruit-forward with a floral nose and silky finish. And as we get into Anderson Valley with the Hayley and Deer Meadows we pick up the pure cherry fruit and earthy aromas from that cool climate. Wrapping it up in Comptche, the vineyard that is furthest north and closest to the coast, the wine serves up that “oceanic acidity,” a balanced, earthy and strikingly-colored pinot noir.

After reading all that, and if you’ve been following this blog since the 2009 harvest, then you’re probably ready to get some for yourself. Our online store, which we had closed for the summer due to warm weather shipping restrictions and some updating of the store, is now open and the 2009 vintage is now available. Just go to www.waitsmast.com and click on “purchase.”

At the moment, we are only able to ship within the state of California, but we are working on adding some additional states in the coming weeks and months. If you are in one of those other 49 states and wish for us to ship to you, let us know and we’ll do our best to get the proper permits (there are tons of legal restrictions on direct shipping, so no guarantees).

2009 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir

Soon we’ll have some retailers offering our wine through their online site as well, and they often ship to many states in the U.S. Stay tuned to our blog and our website for updates on these retailers. And to read some of the latest reviews, go to our News page on our website for the most recent reviews on Waits-Mast Pinot Noir.

Enjoy the wines and we’ll keep you posted on more updates on this vintage, our 2010s and the 2011 harvest.



New Wine Enthusiast Reviews for 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

December 15, 2010

The latest online ratings for Wine Enthusiast magazine came out today and two of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir wines were favorably reviewed by west coast wine reviewer Steve Heimoff. We had gotten a heads up about the scores awhile back, but the full reviews weren’t published until today. Without further ado, here they are:

Waits-Mast 2008 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills) – “92 points: Lots of zesty acidity in this wine, which gives it a mouthwatering raciness. It’s bone dry but ultrarich and ripe in cherries, raspberries and oak. There’s a slightly bretty funkiness that adds a mushroomy appeal. Should develop over the next six years.  – S.H. (12/15/2010)”

Waits-Mast 2008 Amber Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – “87 points: Soft and fruity, with raspberry, cherry, Dr. Pepper and oak flavors. It has the jammy, marmalade taste of freshly crushed berries, with citrusy acidity. The oak is front and center. Might develop with a few years in the bottle.  – S.H. (12/15/2010)”

To see the reviews on Wine Enthusiast’s website, click here.

We’re very excited about these reviews and Heimoff does a great job of describing the flavors in these wines. They are also in short supply – we have about nine cases of the La Encantada and four cases of the Amber Ridge left in stock, so get ‘em while you can!



“Tastes Like Fall in a Glass”: Pinot Days Chicago 2010 by Jennifer

Before the Crowds Arrived at Pinot Days Chicago 2010

After a cold summer and fall in San Francisco, it was a treat to fly into Chicago last week during their fall heat wave. The 70 degree temperatures when we arrived were a lovely welcome and were perhaps indicative of what a great weekend we had in store for us.

This was our 3rd time at Pinot Days Chicago and it’s always been one of our favorite events as we have family, friends, and a growing number of customers in the Chicago area. This year we decided to do a few more events than usual, and started things off with a distributor-only tasting on Thursday, Nov. 11th. We’re still not sure if we’re big enough for a distributor yet, but it was great to meet and greet and get some feedback on our wines. Following that event we headed over to the Eno Wine Room at the Fairmont Millennium Park for a special “Meet the Winemakers” tasting. Several wineries were dispersed throughout the lobby bar and folks were invited to stop by to taste the wines and chat with the winemakers. A few of our friends came to the Eno Wine Room tasting, so it was nice to see some familiar faces.

The Crew from the Chicago Food Whores blog

The big event was on Saturday, November 13th, with both the public Pinot Days tasting and trade tasting taking place at Navy Pier. We were floored by the number of people who came out for Pinot Days this year. For the first time ever, we completely poured through all of the sample bottles of wine that we brought. In case you’re curious, we poured our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills and our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard in Russian River.

We got some great feedback on the wines, but things were so hectic that Jennifer wasn’t able to capture as many great quotes as in 2009 and 2008. Tasters seemed to enjoy both wines, saying that the 2008 La Encantada “tastes like fall in a glass,” with “great acidity” and a lovely aroma. One person said that the La Encantada was in their “top 3″ wines of the entire day at Pinot Days, with others commenting, “this is my favorite so far.” In terms of the 2008 Amber Ridge, people said that it was “velvety,” had a “great aroma,” pointed out that “this could be a staple [wine]” and that it is “very food-friendly” and could pair with an entree right through to dessert.

Probably most gratifying of all, we had several people stop by at the end of the day (when things were starting to get sloppy at Pinot Days!) and said that after being around the entire room our wines were still their favorites.  It was equally satisfying to meet people who had been to our table in past years, several of whom had bought our wines before.

Jennifer, our #1 Fan Luke, and Brian (Photo by Paul Riismandel)

Our “#1 Fan” Luke came by again this year and greeted us by exclaiming, “These are Alchemists!” He’s a charmer and we swear we don’t have him on our payroll, although his pronouncements about our wine would make great ad copy. He also said to us that our winemaking project is “like a cause.” We couldn’t agree more!

After talking all day, Jennifer was also happy to have a taster tell her, “You don’t have to talk, the wine speaks for itself,” especially since she was choking on a chocolate-covered espresso bean at the time. Sweet!

Thanks to Luke and to everyone else for making us feel like rock stars this past weekend. We’re not sure that we’ll be able to quit our day jobs just yet (as one taster predicted), but all of the kind words at Pinot Days Chicago surely made our day.



Pinot Days Chicago 2010: Waits-Mast Events by valleyfog

Nov. 13, 2010

Harvest has come and gone and Pinot Days Chicago 2010 is just around the corner. Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago Grand Festival on Saturday, November 13, 2010. The festival starts with a trade tasting from 11 am to 1pm, then the public tasting from 1 pm to 5 pm. Over 60 producers from North America and other pinot noir regions will be pouring that day.

This will be the third year that Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago. We love the event because it’s smaller than the SF event and we recognize more and more faces every year we go back. When you’re a new producer and nobody has heard your name – despite how good your wine is – it’s nice when you start to get attendees heading to your table first, or at least within the first hour of the public tasting.

We’ll be pouring two wines, our 2008 Amber Ridge pinot noir and the 2008 La Encantada pinot noir. Each has received a silver medal from the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The Scene at Waits-Mast

Waits-Mast Family Cellars at Pinot Days Chicago last year

In addition to the Grand Festival, we are also pouring at a couple of other events. On Thursday, November 11, we’ll be pouring at a “Meet the Winemakers” tasting at the ENO Wine Room at the Fairmont Millenium Park in Chicago. Other participating producers including Native9, Fog Crest, C.Donatiello, Three Sticks, Buena Vista Carneros, and Lachini.

The Fairmont will also be carrying our 2008 La Encantada Vineyard pinot noir following the event, so if you are unable to make it, you can find that wine there. This is exciting because it is the first retail account we have in the Chicago area. We’ll also be pouring at a distributor-only tasting at the Whitehall Hotel in downtown Chicago on Thursday afternoon from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.

We’re looking forward to coming weekend and hope to see all of our returning friends and meet new pinot-enthusiasts as well. We’ll also provide our usual recap of the event and all of its colorful observations.



Silver and Gold: 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition by valleyfog

Waits-Mast Family Cellars was proud to take home silver and gold medals for its first ever entries in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Yes, when we think of silver and gold we can’t help but think of that Burl Ives song from the Rankin-Bass Christmas classic, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Perhaps we’ve got a little bit of Christmas in July going on here, but it’s always nice to receive such accolades for our humble wines.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

Both our 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley and 2008 La Encantada Pinot Noir(due to be released in the early Fall) from Sta. Rita Hills received silver medals in the pinot noir category. The competition was stiff and included wines from Oregon, France, New Zealand and other regions, so we’re honored to be included among some greats. See the entire list here.

The competition also included a label competition to recognize excellence in label design in the industry and our 2008 Amber Ridge label won a gold medal. Our wine label (for all wines, not just the Amber Ridge) went through a revamp in the 2007 vintage, with the intention of creating a more sophisticated, yet down-to-earth look.

The panoramic “band” label is designed to emphasize the foggy grandeur of the landscape photo and to also stand out on the shelf at a wine shop or wine bar. In the end, it is meant to reflect the quality and experience of our cool-climate pinot noirs. Yes, it’s okay to judge a book by its cover as well. Special thanks to designers Alyssa Ure and Hayley Partridge who helped us design the wonderful label and packaging for our wines.

The San Francisco International Wine Competition is in its 30th year now, and includes over 3,800 different wines from over 1,200 wineries across 28 states and 27 countries. 45 wine industry professionals served as judges for the competition, which took place in mid-June.

The Waits-Mast 2008 Amber Ridge is currently available in our webstore. Stay posted to this blog for the release of the 2008 La Encantada.



Release Party This Sunday at Red + White Wine Bar in Glen Park by valleyfog

Red & White in Glen Park

Hey! We’re havin’ a party! A Spring release party in Summer. Yes, you read that right.  Spring just got away from us, so we decided that it was better late than never to hold a party in honor of our newest Pinot Noir.

So, please join us Sunday, July 11 at our favorite neighborhood wine bar, Red & White in Glen Park, as we celebrate the official launch for the 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard in Russian River. To read more about the crush and pressing of this wine and see tasting notes and specs, see our blog post from the Spring.

We’re excited to share this wine with you, as it marks our return to the very first vineyard from which we made wine in 2005 and we just got word that it scored a silver medal in the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

2008 Waits-Mast Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

We’ll be pouring our 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir at promotional prices — $12 for a glass and $6 for a taste (half-glass) — during the event and you will also be able to purchase bottles to drink at Red & White or to take home with you. Red + White also has some great food to nosh on with our wine, as well as a unique selection of red, white and sparkling wines by the glass or bottle.

Details:

Location: Red & White Wine Bar

Street: 678 Chenery Street (near Diamond) in the Glen Park neighborhood (accessible via BART or MUNI)

City: San Francisco, CA

Date: Sunday, July 11, 2010

Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm PT

View and RSVP to the invite in Facebook.

New to Glen Park? Glen Park is a great little hamlet, tucked within the hills of the southern part of San Francisco. We feel very lucky to live just up the hill from this burgh. Here are a few ideas to make a day of it:

  • Take a hike in Glen Canyon, located at the West end of Chenery Street.
  • Pick up some sandwiches or cheese for your hike at Canyon Market on Diamond Street, a great local market with everyday and specialty foods (and wines, including ours!)
  • Browse away the afternoon and maybe catch some poetry or live music at Bird & Beckett, an amazing independent bookstore located on Chenery Street.
  • Cross the street to continue browsing wonderful gifts at Perch and say hi to our friend Zoel.
  • Getting hungry? Lots of options. One of the best Neopolitan pizza places in the Bay Area is Gialina. Or get a reservation at Chenery Park, a great upscale neighborhood restaurant with contemporary American food with a Cajun touch.

We hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it to the party, swing by Red + White another time and you should be able to order the Amber Ridge Pinot Noir by the bottle to share with friends at the bar or take home to enjoy with dinner.



Spring Release: 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard by valleyfog

2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

For our Spring release, Waits-Mast Family Cellars welcomes back an old friend — pinot noir from the Amber Ridge Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. This wine holds a special place in our heart as it was the one that got us hooked into making pinot noir. Our first venture into winemaking was in 2005 when we decided to make one barrel of pinot noir purely for the learning experience — and to drink and share some really good wine that had our name on the label.

Jumping into this whole winemaking thing was a big investment for us at the time and we spent hours tasting different barrel samples from various vineyards before finally arriving on Amber Ridge, an up-and-coming vineyard in Russian River Valley, as our choice. So, we jumped in and got our hands dirty to make this wine, and it ended up being an incredibly nuanced, aromatic and elegant pinot noir.

Suffice it to say, it exceeded our expectations. It also exceeded the expectations of our friends, who loved it so much they wanted to buy cases of the stuff.

This was the defining moment that took Waits-Mast from one barrel to a 200-case production micro-boutique brand that we are today. Okay, not quite the humongous rise to stardom, but a lot of good things have happened to us since we made that first wine – notably lots of other amazing wines that we have made since then.

When we finally got our hands on these grapes again, it was 2008. The 2008 harvest came in a little early on September 3rd and the clusters were small to medium and looked beautiful. The base clones for this wine are 115 and 667, together providing elegance and structure, respectively. To punch up the fruit a bit, we blended in a small percentage of 777 clone just before going into bottle.

The 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir was bottled in September of 2009 after 12 months of barrel-aging in 33% new French oak. The nose pops with strawberry and red cherry and a little baking spice, along with hints of herbs. On the palate is the classic Amber Ridge that we love: sweet cherry, lush fruit, and a smooth, creamy finish. This wine is drinking very well right now and stands on its own by the glass or paired with pan-roasted pork tenderloin with Asian five-spice seasonings.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

The 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir is priced at $44/bottle and is now available in our online store. Enjoy!

Technical specifications:

Clones: 115/667/777

Alcohol content: 14.4% by volume

Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)

Fermentation: native yeast

Barrel aging: 12 months in French oak, 33% new (Francois Freres, MT)

Bottled: September, 2009

Production: 25 cases

Drink now through 2015

Price: $44/bottle

Release date: April 11, 2010



Crush ’09: Amber Ridge pressing by valleyfog
Tasting the Amber Ridge juice in increments

Tasting the Amber Ridge juice in increments

The crush is on and Jennifer and I are busier than ever this harvest season. We’re expanding our Pinot Noir portfolio quite a bit this year (more news on that in future posts), so we’re going through waves of sorting and pressing. The Amber Ridge fruit from Russian River came in first and has gone through its cold soak (5 days) and fermentation process and we pressed it in two different sessions. We pressed the 115 clone first as that fruit came in about 4 days before the 667 and 777 came in.

With 115, we moved about 40 gallons, or about 2/3 of the barrel, from the bin to a neutral oak barrel. The remaining grapes and juice were pressed in increments of .2 bars, a measurement that roughly translates to pounds-per-square inch. The pressing happens in a large EuroPress, a machine that has a bladder that slowly expands with increasingly larger amounts of pressure on the skins. The more you press, the more color and flavor you extract from the grapes. You don’t want to press Pinot too much, as you don’t want to overpower the wine with too many tannins or too much bitterness from the seeds and skins.

Jennnifer does the taste test on a sunny Sunday

Jennnifer does the taste test on a sunny Sunday

After going through various increments, we stopped at 1.1 bars. Some of the increments generated the sweetness of the grape, while others revealed earthier flavors, like herbal tea, that come from the tannins. It all mixes together to provide structure, balance and hopefully, complexity.

After filling up the rest of the barrel of 115, a few days later we went back into the winery to press the 667 and 777 clones, which were co-fermenting. After about 45 gallons of free run juice were transferred to a new Francois Freres M+ oak barrel, we went through the same pressing process, this time going up to 1.2 bars. In tasting the fermented juice, we noticed lots of red and darker fruit flavors and a nice pucker of acidity. 667 and 777 carry more tannin and up-front fruit flavor, respectively, so they will complement the 115 base that we have in the other barrel.

Now the two barrels are cozy in the winery, awaiting the occasional topping (extra wine to ensure the barrel is filled all the way to the top and no oxidation takes place) and future barrel tastings. The 2009 Amber Ridge is off to a great start and portents to be a lush and complex Pinot Noir. We’ll keep you posted on its progress throughout the year.

Gorgeous Russian River Pinot Noir wine ready for barrel

Gorgeous Russian River Pinot Noir wine ready for barrel



2009 Harvest Has Begun by Jennifer
Amber Ridge (115) Awaiting Sorting

Amber Ridge (115) Awaiting Sorting

With all of the Waits-Mast 2008 Pinots settling into their bottles, our thoughts have eagerly turned to the 2009 harvest. With some late Spring rains and a consistently warm and dry summer, this year is shaping up to be a great harvest.

Of the different vineyards from which we source fruit, our Russian River grapes, from Amber Ridge vineyard in Windsor, California,  are usually the first to be harvested. This year was no exception; on September 9th we welcomed and sorted the first of our fruit: Dijon clone 115 from Amber Ridge. We work a lot with 115 as our base clone because of the more elegant red fruit and floral characteristics. From there, we build and integrate other clones to add structure and complexity.

The fruit was beautiful and it was our daughter’s first trip up the ladder to the sorting table. She dug right in and loved the taste of the fruit (but complained about her sticky fingers). Brian built up his right bicep while hold her in one hand and sorting fruit with the other! We’re not kidding when we say Waits-Mast “Family” Cellars.

Our Winemaker-in-Training at Her First Sort

Our Winemaker-in-Training at Her First Sort

Building on the 115, on September 11th we hand-sorted the 667 and 777 clones from Amber Ridge. The 667 provides great backbone for the final blend and the 777 adds that punch of fruit to round out the variety of berry flavors. Off on a secret mission to find more Pinot Noir fruit sources, we tapped our friend Bryce to help us sort the fruit that day.

He reported that the fruit was in great shape and that the 777 in particular was “pristine” and  “absolutely stunning,” commenting that “if all grapes tasted this way, I would survive on nothing else.” Wow. We’re sorry we missed the sort, but are pleased to hear this.

This year, we are doing two barrels of Amber Ridge, which allows us a little more versatility in working with these clones, oak and yeast, among other components. It also give us some more flexibility in the final blending process. It’s almost done with fermentation and the last of the sugars are converting to alchohol, so later this week we’ll be pressing the Amber Ridge…probably on the same day that we’ll be bringing in the “secret” fruit from Anderson Valley. More to come on that in our next harvest update!




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