Amor Fati Pinot Noir 2015
Amor Fati means "love of fate" and fate has brought these wines. Small productions from estate-driven fruit growing from a single vineyard in coastal Santa Maria Valley, the wines have a strong cult following due to the elusive and intriguing wine styles and alluring labels based on William Blake’s sketches. Culty, illusive and beguiling, with extended hang time in the vineyard, these wines explode from the glass. Aggressive and engulfing, yet showcasing restrained balance on the palate; tannins are lush, round, unprecedented. Amor Fati translates in Latin to “the love of one’s fate.” In Santa Maria, harvest dates often push into late November and grape ripening is solely at the discretion of nature. Each year they wait and have faith. Labels are sketch renditions of William Blake’s 1793 work “The Marriage Of Heaven and Hell.” Look deep into the symmetrical label to find a naked woman embracing the hand of a mermaid and a small child, all while riding a pink dragon. Drink more to see more.
A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely west to east starting near the coast. The valley funnels cool, Pacific Ocean air to the vineyards more inland, allowing grapes a longer hang time to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, it is an ideal environment for grape growing.
Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has also proven quite successful in the region. Many vineyards are owned by growers who sell their grapes to other wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottlings from different wineries. Bien Nacido Vineyard is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”