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!


SF Chronicle Top 100 and other recent press by valleyfog

Our first commercial releases, the 2007 Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir continue to get positive feedback, and this week we were floating on air after being included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines 2009 issue. If you weren’t the recipient of fervent Facebooking and torrential Tweeting from us on Sunday, read on about this review and a couple of reviews from our Pinot Days Chicago visit:

SF Chronicle's Top 100 Wines 2009 issue

San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines 2009 (12/6/2009): Waits-Mast Family Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley is included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s annual list of top 100 wines. Jon Bonne writes:  “Jennifer Waits and Brian Mast found a style that invokes old-fashioned Anderson Valley Pinot, full of woodsy conifer aromas, with a lighter touch and rhubarb-like highlights.”

It is gratifying to see our longtime passion for Anderson Valley pinot noir recognized, especially in the company of other incredible West coast pinot noirs. Alas, we must admit that we are now sold out of the Wentzel, but for SF locals, you can have one last sip of this amazing wine at Red + White wine bar, opening soon in Glen Park. Stay posted here for opening festivities featuring Waits-Mast wines.

Broke Wino (11/24/09): Regarding our 2007 Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta Rita Hills, Broke Wino writes, “Their 2007 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is what stole me, its nose had this crazy mushroom, sawdust play that not only do I adore, but almost makes me forget to sip.” It’s true – the aromatics on this wine are haunting and brooding, but Broke Wino sez it better!

Chicago Food Whores (11/17/09): On Twitter they cited our 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta Rita Hills as their top pick from the Pinot Days Chicago tasting: “Favorite wine pick from Pinot Days- Waits-Mast 2007 Santa Rita hills, organic!” and wrote on their blog recap that it is “one outstanding wine.”

Crush 2009: 5 Vineyards/5 Vintages by valleyfog
Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge

Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge

That’s right. We’re on our fifth vintage. Isn’t that crazy?? Our first vintage was 2005. Jennifer and I had been married for almost three years, we had a baby on the way, and life was busy enough. Then we read this story in the San Francisco Chronicle about custom wineries that allowed you to make your own barrel of wine, one at a time, just like the professionals do. We did a pinot noir barrel tasting at Crushpad, located at that time in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, and were sold on the quality. We made one barrel that year from Amber Ridge vineyard, an up and coming Russian River vineyard near Gary Farrell’s Starr Ridge Vineyard in Windsor. It was so good, our friends wanted bottles and cases of the wine. We were hooked.

Fast forward to 2009: more excellent pinot noir, a cool label, a fancy website, a working webstore, this somewhat eloquent blog and our wines actually selling(albeit slowly) in the marketplace. We’ve even got a couple of good reviews. So the passion that Jennifer and I shared initially that drove us to make wine has only been stoked further by the support of our family and friends, industry peers and wonderful customers. So to celebrate our fifth vintage, we are making pinot noir from five different vineyards. That almost sounds crazier than the fact that we’re on our fifth vintage.

Our expansion (in a non-expanding economy) has to do with two things: our focus on site-specific wines and a bountiful harvest. Our site- and vineyard-specific approach reflects three different regions: Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley and Sta. Rita Hills. Our long-time affinity for the Anderson Valley and membership in the Anderson Valley Winegrowers’ Association has inspired us to expand that portion of our portfolio of wines. And it turns out that this year, because of a bumper crop and a slow economy, we have been able to get our grape-stained hands on some of the best fruit in Mendocino. We didn’t plan on producing a total of 8 barrels (across five vineyards), but the opportunity was too tempting to turn down. That may not sound like a lot to some people, but it’s a big commitment for us folks with day jobs. We’ll go in to more detail on the vineyards we’re working with, but we wanted to provide a quick overview of our small lot, single-vineyard pinot noir program for 2009:


115 clone pinot noir grapes at Rich Savoy's Boonville vineyard

115 clone pinot noir grapes at Rich Savoy's Boonville vineyard

Anderson Valley, Rich Savoy’s Deer Meadows Vineyard (vineyard designate TBD): for the few, but proud, followers of us on Facebook that have been hearing about the “mystery fruit,” it is now revealed. We toured some great vineyards in Anderson Valley in September and heard about a very small amount of fruit available from Rich Savoy’s Boonville vineyard. Situated at 1600 feet elevation, with a commanding south-facing view of Anderson Valley, Savoy’s vineyard off of Deer Meadows Road is meticulously farmed in multiple blocks. We were lucky enough to get enough 115 and Wädenswil (it’s Swiss!) clones to make two barrels. Look for a future post about our visit and tasting notes from the pressing.

Mendocino County (Comptche), Oppenlander Vineyard: wait – there’s more mystery fruit! When Brian was up in the Anderson Valley in for this year’s Pinot Noir Festival, he hit a few new open houses, thanks to some tips from his friend Asim. At both Baxter and Phillips Hill, we tried wines from Oppenlander Vineyard. Oppenlander is owned by the Shandel family and is located near Comptche, northwest of the Anderson Valley and about 8 miles from the ocean. This is the wild west of pinot noir – similar to the true Sonoma Coast vineyards like Hirsch. The grapes benefit from cooler temperatures and therefore, longer hangtime and better flavor development. This means intensity of flavor without over-extraction of fruit. That’s how we intend to coax these grapes into an elegant expression of pinot noir. We’ll be making two barrels of the 114 clone.

Anderson Valley, Hayley’s Vineyard: Hayley’s (aka Annahala Vineyard) is located on the valley floor, between Boonville and Philo. The valley floor actually gets a lot of low-lying fog that comes in from the “deep-end” of the valley, cooling the grapes down at the end of the day and early in the morning. This slows down the sugar production in the grapes and again, allows for flavor development. We sorted this fruit this past week and the 114 clone berries were tasty with great acidity. Exactly what we expect from Anderson Valley. We’ll make one barrel of this wine in 2009.


Waits-Mast 2009 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir: one of 8 barrels this year

Waits-Mast 2009 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir: one of 8 barrels this year

Russian River Valley, Amber Ridge Vineyard: this year, we moved to two barrels of Amber Ridge as it may be our last chance to make pinot noir from this vineyard. Based on the sorting and pressing that we’ve completed for Amber Ridge this year, it is going to be a killer wine. One barrel is 115 clone, a more feminine, elegant version of Pinot and the other is a co-ferment of 667 and 777, two more fruit-forward and structured versions of Pinot. When we blend them together next year, we’re confident the wine will be a wonderful, complex expression of Russian River Pinot Noir. If you can’t wait until then, soon we’ll be releasing our 2008 Amber Ridge, so stay close to this blog.

Sta. Rita Hills, La Encantada Vineyard: last, but certainly not least, is this amazing vineyard farmed by Richard Sanford in Santa Barbara County. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard us rave about Richard and his 100% organic farming practices. The fruit always comes in with small clusters and small berries – perfect for powerful and well-crafted pinot noirs. This will be the third year we’re making wine from La Encantada, and we’re honored to have access to this vineyard. We’ll make one barrel of 115 clone, with a little 667 blended in, most likely. To try our 2007 La Encantada, which is showing great complexity after a year in the bottle, click here.

Tasting the Waits-Mast 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir with Richard Sanford

Tasting the Waits-Mast 2007 La Encantada Pinot Noir with Richard Sanford

But wait, there’s more…

To celebrate our fifth vintage, we’re making an extremely small amount of sparkling wine. It’s a long ways away, as sparkling wine takes two years to ferment and age, so we’ll leave you with that. Until then, we’ll provide more updates on the 2009 harvest and crush, as well as some holiday surprises coming soon!