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Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

This is a wonderfully balanced, fresh and complex wine that shows finesse more than power. It has an aroma like sour cherries, cloves and bay leaves before flavors of rhubarb, black tea and black cherry come through. The texture is bolstered by mild tannins and welcome acidity, and it has enough weight for a lingering finish.

The 2015 Freeman Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir represents the smallest amount we have made of this blend since the 2003 vintage. The fourth year of the recent, historic drought started off with a warm, dry winter, which pushed the vines ahead of schedule, only to be hit with the coldest May since the 1880’s. The cold snap came right in the middle of flowering, and the resulting fruit set was the lowest we’ve seen in years. Our own Yu-ki estate vineyard was particularly hard hit, leaving no fruit to spare for this year’s Sonoma Coast blend.

Since 2010, Freeman has been sourcing Dijon Pinot Noir Clone 777 from the Campbell Ranch Vineyard near Annapolis, in the far northwestern reaches of Sonoma County. In 2015 we got less than 50% of Campbell’s normal contribution to our Sonoma Coast blend. The true Sonoma Coast character still comes through, though, even considering the overall warmth of the vintage.

Keller Estate is still in the Sonoma Coast appellation, although it is on the complete opposite side of Sonoma County from Campbell. Keller sits in the Petaluma Gap sub appellation, just north of Carneros. We enjoy the unique fruit qualities that come from Keller, which is unlike any other vineyard we work with.
The Connell Vineyard lies just north and east of the Petaluma Gap, and it is by far the coolest site from which we source Pinot Noir. In a typical year, Connell is harvested in early to mid-October; but 2015 was so consistently warm—once past cold May—that we picked the Pinot there in mid-September. The quality was exceptional, even as the quantity came in well below normal.

The 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir will probably be among the most long- lived of our lineup for the vintage. The amount of time it takes to coax the classic berry and spice nose out of the glass suggests that this year’s Sonoma Coast Pinot will need to rest in bottle for some good while before opening up. There is plenty of richness, tannin and acidity on the palate to look forward to, as well as a long, dreamy finish. We anticipate the best drinking window to be between 2018 and 2025.

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Specs

Vineyards
  • Campbell
  • Keller
  • Connell
Barrel Aging
11 months in French oak
  • 21% new
  • 43% one-year-old
  • 7% two-year-old
  • 29% three-year-old
Bottling
August 14, 2016
Fermentation
Five-day cold soak in open-top fermenters, hand-punched down one to three times per day, free run sent directly to barrel, press wine settled and barreled separately
Production
  • 750 ml: 308 cases
  • 1.5 L: 18 cases

Scores

92+ points
92 points

Accolades

Last week, we met with Ken Freeman, proprietor with his wife Akiko of Freeman Vineyard & Winery, to taste through his new Chardonnay and Pinot Noir releases from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Ken and Akiko launched the winery in 2001 and today produce some 6 thousand cases of first-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Freemans source grapes from their Gloria Estate Vineyard, Yuk-ki Estate Vineyard and top neighboring vineyards in Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Akiko serves as winemaker, having acquired her knowledge of viticulture and winemaking by apprenticing with veteran winemaker Ed Kurtzman who now serves as consulting winemaker.

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