ValleyFogBlog


Countdown to the 2009 Release: Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir by valleyfog

On to pinot noir number three out of five pinots we made in 2009. Yes, that’s a lot for a small little winery like ourselves, but we were like a kid in a candy shop with all the available fruit that year. We made three pinots from Mendocino County, including the Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir.

One of our goals in winemaking is to explore the variations on the pinot noir theme, based on location. With five wines, we want each one to represent a different flavor profile – that is what is so enchanting about pinot noir.

Hayley Vineyard fruit headed for the sorting line

Located halfway between Boonville and Philo in Anderson Valley, Hayley Vineyard is a 34-acre site is planted to Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 along with small amounts of Pommard and Martini.

Unlike the Deer Meadows Vineyard which is at 1600′ elevation, the Hayley Vineyard is located on the valley floor, where fog situates itself at the end of the day, providing a cooling influence to moderate from the warm days that permeate the valley. This location yields a more fruit-focused profile vs. the earthy and floral tones on the Deer Meadows. Each wine is yummy – just different.

We only made one barrel of pinot noir from the Hayley Vineyard, so it had to be good! Read the tasting notes and you’ll get an idea of why this is a singularly special wine:

The Hayley Vineyard pinot noir is all about that classic Anderson Valley cherry fruit. On the nose, in addition to the cherry, is a hint of malted milk and a sweet toastiness from the oak. At the beginning, you get hints of pastry and cherry pie. On the mid-palate is a soft, silky mouthfeel enrobed in strawberry and rhubarb, ending in a clean finish. A light to medium-bodied pinot noir, the Hayley Vineyard pinot noir is truly enjoyable on its own or with your favorite meal.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clones: 114
  • Harvest/Brix: September 29, 2009 at 26 Brix
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: RC212 yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Francois Freres)
  • Alcohol content: 14.6% by volume
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 24 cases

That’s our tour of Mendocino County pinot noir…next week, we move a bit further south to the Russian River.

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Countdown to the 2009 Release: Oppenlander Pinot Noir by valleyfog

We continue our countdown the release of our selection of five different vineyard-designate pinot noirs from the 2009 vintage. Last week we looked at Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley and this week we head out of Anderson Valley and into the hinterlands of Mendocino County.

Oppenlander Vineyard, Mendocino County

Oppenlander Vineyard is well off the beaten path in Mendocino County outside of the town of Comptche. It’s about eight and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies at an elevation of 250 feet. Oppenlander is owned by the Shandel family, 5th generation owners of the property, and was originally homesteaded in the 1860s by their ancestors from Denmark (via the Gold Rush in Australia). You can read more about our visit to Oppenlander Vineyard in our blog post from last year.

The vineyard sees consistently cool temperatures across the growing season and is harvested later than other regions, closer to when they harvest pinot up in Willamette Valley, Oregon. This cooler temperature range and coastal proximity can deliver a certain “oceanic acidity,” lending structure and complexity to the wine. How does that climate and location translate into the actual flavor profile of the wine? Check out our tasting notes for the 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard:

The most striking observation about the 2009 Oppenlander Pinot Noir is its color – a vibrant violet-red color that has been visible from crush all the way through to the bottle. On the nose, dried lavender mixes with mushroom and earth tones for subtle aromatics. On the palate, tart cherry and raspberry are wrapped in a taut package that shows a lot of balance. Definitely one for aging and well-suited for pairing with your favorite pinot-friendly meal.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clone: Dijon 114
  • Harvest/Brix: October 2, 2009 at 24 Brix
  • Alcohol content: 14.2% by volume
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: native yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Remond)
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 48 cases

Ahhh the wonders of Mendocino County Pinot Noir! But wait, we have  one more from Anderson Valley – next week we’ll look at our 2009 Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir.



Countdown to the 2009 Release: Deer Meadows Pinot Noir by valleyfog

Pinot Noir grapes at Rich Savoy's Deer Meadows Vineyard above Boonville

It’s been a little quiet over here at ValleyFogBlog, but we’ve been busy behind the scenes at Waits-Mast Family Cellars this summer readying our 2009 vintage Pinot Noir wine for release in September. The busy stuff is the less-than-glamorous side of running a winery. Things like permits, licenses, label approvals and the like. It’s the long checklist of items that we have had to go through to get to releasing and selling the wines.

The good news is we are almost done with all that. A few last steps in the month of August, mostly focusing on revamping our webstore, and then we will be ready to release the wine in early September. So we thought we would take some time to revisit each of the five different pinot noirs we crafted in 2009, profiling a different vineyard each week leading up to the launch.

When you’re in the middle of harvest of any given vintage there is great excitement and anticipation for how the wine will turn out. We recall 2009 being a special year because the growing year was ideal – consistently warm and moderate across the summer – and we expanded our vineyard portfolio to take on some new and different Mendocino County vineyards. Back then we were about to burst – we just couldn’t wait to share these wines. And alas, they are ready.

Taking the 09 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir for a test-drive at Frances restaurant in SF

This week we are going to look at our 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from the Deer Meadows Vineyard. This wine is probably one of the best single-vineyard wines from a vineyard you’ve never heard of. Deer Meadows Vineyard is located in Anderson Valley and is owned and farmed by Rich Savoy, one of the best-known pinot noir growers in that region. The vineyard you may have heard of is Savoy Vineyard, which is down the road from Deer Meadows was Rich’s original vineyard (and is now owned by Breggo Cellars).

Deer Meadows is located at 1600′ elevation above Boonville, sitting above the fog layer and experiencing slightly cooler temperatures than the valley floor, give its altitude. To read more about our first visit to the vineyard back in September of 2009 and notes on harvest and winemaking, check out our blog post from October, 2009.

But let’s get to the most important part – now that the wine has been aged in French oak and in bottle, how does it taste? Here are our most recent tasting notes from the 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir:

The best word to describe this wine is exotic. Wonderful floral and earthy aromatics integrate with a slight caramel edge and Asian spice on the nose. The palate is brisk with bright cherry, orange peel and coriander. Intense red cherry and great acidity punctuate the finish. With such great structure, the wine will unfold after a few hours after being opened; with bottle aging, it will develop even more complexity over time.

Here are the details and specs for this wine:

  • Clones: 115/Wädenswil
  • Harvest/Brix: September 25, 2009 at 23.5 Brix
  • Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)
  • Fermentation: RC212 yeast
  • Barrel aging: 17 months in French oak, 25% new (Cadus, tight grain, medium toast)
  • Alcohol content: 14.2% by volume
  • Bottled: March, 2011
  • Production: 49 cases

Sound good? Oh yeah, it is. Wait until you hear about the next 09 pinot…we’ll look at the 2009 Oppenlander Vineyard next week.