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Yu-ki Estate Pinot Noir

Packed with black cherry flavor accented by clove, pine and forest floor nuances, this complex and concentrated wine is a beauty. The mouthfeel is broad and velvety, and the finish lingers nicely.

2015 marked our second vintage of Yu-ki Estate Pinot Noir. Ken and Akiko bought the land that would include the Yu-ki Estate in 2007, and planted their favorite heritage and Dijon Pinot Noir clones. The cool, wind-swept vineyard rises above the town of Occidental, 1,000 feet in elevation and only five miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is named for Akiko’s nephew, Yu-ki, who lives in Japan. The word Yu-ki can also be translated from Japanese to mean “courage,” or “big tree”—appropriate descriptors for a site surrounded by majestic, old growth redwood trees, of which the Freemans have donated 22 pristine acres to the Bodega Land Trust.

The first five out of eight blocks planted at Yu-ki make up the 2015 Yu-ki Estate Pinot Noir. There are three Dijon clones—114, 667 and 828—as well as two Swiss Pinot Noir clones, Mariafeld (also called Clone 23), and Wadenswil, or Clone 2A. In the coming years we will see another block of 828 come online as well as two heritage clones, Mt. Eden and Calera.

2015 was an excellent year for quality but below average for quantity, at least for Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The location around Yu-ki will always be weather-challenged, given its short distance from the Pacific Ocean; but in addition 2015 marked the fourth year of a historic drought, and recorded the coldest May since the 1880’s. This all combined to give us less than one ton per acre of Pinot Noir, and we consequently bottled fewer than 300 cases of Yu-ki in 2015. In spite of these small numbers, though, the wine offers an excellent preview of the future.

The 2015 Yu-ki Pinot Noir is as dense and dark as any of our 2015 Pinots. The true Sonoma Coast nose of earth and spice layered over ripeness and fruit is apparent right away. The palate is balanced with excellent acidity and just the right amount of tannin and oak to create a rich, enjoyable texture. Look for the 2015 Yu-ki to start showing at its best from mid-2017 through 2022.

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Specs

Vineyards
  • 100% Yu-ki Estate, Sonoma Coast
Clones
  • Mariafeld (Clone 23)
  • Dijon 114
  • Dijon 667
  • Dijon 828
  • Wadenswil (Clone 2A)
Barrel Aging
11 months in French oak
  • 36% new
  • 27% one-year-old
  • 27% two-year-old
  • 10% 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: 240 cases
  • 1.5 L: 18 cases

Scores

92 points
** Two Stars
91 points
93 points
93 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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