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Ambullneo Vineyards Bulldog Reserve Pinot Noir 2005

Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
  • RP92
  • WE90
13.8% ABV
  • RP93
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13.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Critical Acclaim

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RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The dark ruby/purple-colored 2005 Pinot Noir Bulldog Reserve (65% from the Solomon Hills Vineyard and the rest from Bien Nacido and a handful of other small plots) is a 500-case cuvee offering beautiful black cherry, tapenade, strawberry, and loamy soil aromas, medium to full body, and superb structure and length. With good acidity and moderate alcohol (by Californian standards) of 13%, this Burgundian-styled Pinot should evolve nicely for a decade.
WE 90
Wine Enthusiast
Fans of delicate Pinot Noir need not apply. This is a big, tough, drily tannic wine, with almost the heft of Syrah. That makes it an oddball, but there’s no denying its deliciousness and complexity. You can criticize it for non-varietalness, but the wealth of cherry and blackberry jam, dark chocolate and rum punch flavors is addictive. It’s a blend of some of the best Pinot vineyards in California, including Bien Nacido, Laetitia and Solomon Hills, which is owned by the family that owns Bien Nacido. Could be an ager, but we know nothing of its history.
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Ambullneo Vineyards

Ambullneo Vineyards

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Ambullneo Vineyards, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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Ambullneo Vineyards inception was one of uncertainty, both in our survival and our knowledge. Simply put, how could we make the very best Pinot, Chardonnay and Syrah that could be made? And equally as important, would their customers pay the additional money necessary to do such a thing?

The answers to these questions are now certain. They have been accepted and they continue to make better wines each year. Starting out, they needed to understand our vineyard sites, farm them like never before and make sacrifice. The attitude of Ambullneo Vineyards is "whatever it takes". No cluster is safe from being dropped to the ground, both in the vineyard and on the sorting table. No barrel is safe from being rejected and never making it to the final product. Only the tightest grain barrels are chosen for the project and cost is not a consideration. At first, while learning their sites, we were making cuvees (the blending of several vineyards). Now that the vineyards have more age and we are approaching our 9th vintage, they have started making site specific wines.

It comes down to this: whatever it took to produce the finest in wine is the course they have selected. Ambullneo's decisions have not been easy to make, but they believe that in effort you will find reward. Mass producing wine is not something that interests them. It's handcrafted wines from the vineyard that ignite their passions.

Santa Barbara

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With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.

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.

CWYBULLDOG_2005 Item# 131941