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Alta Maria Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2012

Pinot Noir from Central Coast, California
  • W&S90
13.7% ABV
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13.7% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Rebounding from one of the wettest years to one of the drier years, we had 190 days of almost perfect growing conditions. The wines of 2012 show structure and style of classic age-worthy wines. This vintage presents some of the best wines since 2007! The Pinot noir is produced from all Santa Maria Valley vineyards blending a variety of clones (113, 114, 115, 667, 777, Pommard 4).

Critical Acclaim

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W&S 90
Wine & Spirits
This opens with a pungent scent of whole-cluster fermentation, that stemminess carrying through in resolutely savory flavors of kelp, tomato skin and beetroot. Beneath the initial vegetal elements, it’s refined and silky, building toward a brighter red raspberry tone and cedar mulch aromas in the end, its verve and restrained ripeness suited to grilled tuna.
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Alta Maria

Alta Maria

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Alta Maria, Central Coast, California
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Alta Maria is a small, artisan winery focusing on producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the cold and oceanic Santa Maria Valley appellation in Santa Barbara County. Founded by 9th Generation California James Ontiveros, and Winemaker and long-time college friend Paul Wilkins, Alta Maria's wines are inspired by the old world regions of France and are classic examples of purity, balance and complexity. We strive to make the best wines possible in a very conscientious manner and employ organic and sustainable practices leaving no indelible mark on the people and places around us.

The name "Alta Maria" refers to the upper Santa Maria River, which James' ancestor, Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros crossed on Saint Mary's Day, 1855, as he drove cattle from Southern California to his new home at Rancho Tepusquet – now home to some of the globe's most renowned vines. The picturesque river flowing through the valley was the force responsible for sustaining ranch life in those early days.

Central Coast

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The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.

Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.

While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).

In the Glass

Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.

RVLAI12PNSM_2012 Item# 141169