2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

2015 was an outstanding year for quality throughout the Russian River Valley, but the yields were some of the lowest we’ve seen since Freeman began making wine in 2002. Only 2005 and 2011 produced smaller crops. We’re hoping that 2015 will prove to be the final season of the Great California Drought, which is part of the reason for the smaller crop. Temperatures, though, may have been the real culprit. A warm winter got the vines off to an early start, followed by the coldest May we’ve had since the 1880s. This led to a very small, uneven fruit set on the vines. Then the summer was gorgeous, with perfect weather, followed by our earliest harvest on record in August and September.

Usually Freeman’s Gloria Estate Vineyard makes up the largest part of our Russian River Valley Pinot blend, but in 2015, there was only enough for Gloria’s own Estate bottling. The vineyards that did make it into the Russian River blend are Keefer Ranch, Pratt Vineyard and Connell Vineyard.

The Keefer Ranch has been a part of every Freeman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir since 2004. We source clones 23 and 777 at Keefer, one of the only sites we work with that saw a close to normal-sized crop in 2015. Freeman has been getting Pratt Vineyards’ clone 2A Pinot since 2005. This fruit alternates between going into our Sonoma Coast Pinot or the Russian River Valley blend, where it worked best in 2015. Sally and Brian Connell’s vineyard on Grange Road contributed some of their Pommard 115 and 667 clones to this year’s Russian River Valley Pinot as well.

The concentration of the 2015 vintage shows up in our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It’s usually among our most open and ready to drink wines; but for two years in a row, the RRV has been a deep, dense Pinot that requires some time to reveal itself. A muted nose of wood strawberries, raspberries and wild mushrooms leads to a palate that first displays lush fruit, then deepens to show solid structure and promising ageability. A subtle, incredibly long finish follows. Give this wine until 2018 to open up and through 2026 to be at its peak.

Specs

Vineyards
  • Keefer Ranch
  • Pratt Vineyard
  • Connell Vineyard
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
Barrel Aging
11 months in French oak
  • 29% new
  • 14% one-year-old
  • 43% two year-old
  • 14% three-year-old
Bottling
August 2, 2016
Production
  • 750 ml: 308 cases
  • 1.5 L: 15 cases

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