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Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir
95 points.  & Cellar Section
A Wine Spectator Sonoma Pinot Noirs Favorite cover
Wine Enthusiast
Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir
95 points. & Cellar Section
A Wine Spectator Sonoma Pinot Noirs Favorite

Freeman 2018 Yu-Ki Estate Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast); $68, 95 points. Vibrant, focused and well balanced, this medium- to full-bodied wine offers brilliant aromas and complex flavors of ripe black cherries, violets, sour cherries and black tea. It offers a firm, elegant texture, with fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins. Enjoy through 2026. Cellar Selection. —Jim Gordon


We’re living in the midst of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Pinot Noir in Sonoma. Throughout the county’s appellations, including Carneros, which has its foothold in parts of both Napa and Sonoma, the region has been blessed with a string of great vintages that are current on the market, stretching at the moment from the 2016 red wines through the 2019 rosés.

The quality of the 2017s in particular should be noted. While it was the first year California wasn’t in a yearlong drought, it saw dangerous heat spikes during harvest, followed by fires in October. Pinot was picked relatively early, hurried along by the heat—a result of smart decision making and hustle by experienced producers like Gary Farrell, Patz & Hall, La Crema, Flowers and Emeritus.

“The Pinot Noir bottlings shine because the fruit is so vibrant with incredibly lifted, fresh aromas,” said Gary Farrell Winemaker Theresa Heredia. “These sorts of qualities are unexpected from a very hot vintage like 2017, but we busted our ass to bring all the fruit in as quickly as possible before it began to dehydrate, which would have led to overripe qualities and jammy wines with flabby acidity.”

She started picking on the day of the total solar eclipse, August 21, 2017, bringing in only 6% of the harvest. A heat wave came around August 26, and over the next seven days, she harvested 53% of her total tons. Once she saw a severe heat wave on the horizon, she called all her growers to schedule picks of any grapes that were even remotely ready.

Because of this quick harvest period, she and others were able to capture flavors that are bright and lifted, with aromas that are fresh and energetic.