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Baker Lane Colors Pinot Noir 2014
Nothing then was particularly exotic about planting vines in this part of West Sonoma County, that is planting Pinot Noir. Syrah and Viognier though were something of a different story. But, if there is anything about the unfolding narrative of California viticulture, it’s an ever-evolving picture. There are many sites now planted to grapes that would have been unthinkable 25 years ago. Similarly, as winegrowers seek to cultivate fruit with more precise flavors, acid retention and overall balance, the decision to push the envelope climatically becomes a natural choice.
Just as European winemakers have long championed the distinction of their terroir, we in California are legitimately celebrating their own sense of place. The vivid expression of vineyard character that cooler viticultural sites avails has driven this opportunity more than any other factor. Through 10 harvests we’re gratified to gather the consistent detail and character of their wines. Just as a child has to grow up a bit to reveal its personality, the accumulating collection of flavors presented by our family of wines is helping them know what their working with, and in turn constantly sharpening our approach to the care of the vines. It’s an exciting process to sustainably nurture our grapes and direct them in to the bottle. We hope that the fruit of our efforts is delicious for you as well.
A vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
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.
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.
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.