The grapes for our 1999 Pinot Noir were sourced from four vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The growing season for 1999 was one of the longest in recent memory. The mild summer and cool fall resulted in later than usual harvesting. "Cold-soaking" of the grapes in tank prior to Open-top tank style fermentation enabled the extraction of maximum flavor and suppleness in this wine.
The fruit component invites comparison to strawberry and raspberry jam. The imaginative taster will also find other classic Pinot noir flavors like a hint of mushroom, leather, and forest floor that adds a complex "earthiness" without muting the fruit expression. The top note is a delicate vanilla oak from aging in French Oak barrels to brighten the wine.
Situated on the outskirts of the city of Healdsburg in California's Sonoma County, the Alderbrook estate is located at the southernmost tip of the Dry Creek Valley, within a stone's throw of the Russian River. On a road map this might not seem significant, but in the world of fine wine, this location is considered one of the best in the region. While technically located in the Dry Creek Valley appellation, the official border of the Russian River Valley appellation begins close to Alderbrook's 65-acre estate, giving the winery a unique position at the confluence of these two valleys.
Not only does the estate vineyard receive the afternoon heat that is typical of Dry Creek Valley weather patterns, but the cool night air creeping up the Russian River Valley from the Pacific Ocean produces evening and early morning fog, cooling the vines. Alderbrook's vineyard enjoys the luxury of extended "hang time." This produces more mature fruit resulting in rich, full-bodied flavor characteristics: qualities which are ultimately apparent in the wines.
"The blend of climates is a gift, and our estate vines benefit tremendously from the unique weather conditions," says general manager, George Christie. Our incredible location at the junction of these two appellations gives us the perfect raw materials for wine making."
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.