This wine is the result of careful selections of our best lots of Pinot Noir, with judicious use of French oak. Ruby in color, the wine shows a fusion of ripe red cherry and spice aromas, with subtle hints of crème brulee in the background. A lush, velvety texture up front leads to concentrated cherry and blackberry flavors, with hints of vanilla, caramel and cedar in the finish. The wine shows fine-grained tannins, with enough acidity to keep the fruit lively and add length to the palate. Sixteen months in barrel has created a sense of integration and harmony in the wine, which, while drinking nicely now, will continue to evolve for three or so years to come.
"Refreshing ripe, vibrant, complex and fruit driven, with full bodied black cherry, plum and wild berry fruit that's rich and focused,
ending with a long, layered finish. Drink now through 2014." Wine SpectatorHot Wines Jan. 21, 2009
Carneros Creek Winery
Founded in 1972 by Francis and Kathleen Mahoney and now owned jointly with Bill Hambrecht, Carneros Creek was the first winery to be built in the Carneros district of the Napa Valley since prior to Prohibition. Over the past three decades, the winery has taken a leadership role in the development of California Pinot Noir through its research on clonal selections of the varietal, in conjuction with the University of California-Davis. Based on their research, they identified low-yeilding clones on the hillside vineyards surrounding the winery as producing highly concentrated grapes. These grapes form the backbone of their 1999 Signature Reserve Pinot Noir.
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Technically a part of Napa Valley, the Carneros region straddles both Sonoma & Napa counties. It's the Napa region closest to the San Francisco peninsula and the San Pablo Bay, which is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo bay create a cool weather pattern ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros are delicate, yet complex, with firm structure and acidity. And while the pair are the most popular varieties of the region, some winemakers have branched out, particularly with Syrah. The cool climate Syrah of Carneros is well structured and stylistically similar to Syrah from the Northern Rhone, though often fuller-bodied.
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.