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Balletto Winery Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2013

Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
  • WE91
13.8% ABV
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  • WE90
  • W&S91
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13.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

A lovely wine. A skinny-dip dive through just-right water. Forest-floor earthliness, dark, savory spice and a slight touch of bright red fruit combine with a silky palate that lingers over its poised, age-worthy structure. Then, theres the crisp acidity that keeps the wine lively and intertwines gracefully with the structure. So serious, yet balanced and approachable. This is the Balletto pinot style. The wine has struck a fine balance and will improve during the next three to five years (or more) in bottle.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
One of the producer's larger-production offerings, this wine nonetheless speaks to meticulous attention in the vineyard and cellar, with velvety smoothness to the palate and savory elements of earthy mushroom. Nuanced, it ends in rose petals and black tea, with firm, crisp acidity throughout, all at an almost unheard-of price for the quality.
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Balletto Winery

Balletto Winery

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Balletto Winery, California
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John Balletto began farming in 1977 at the tender age of 17. He had just graduated from high school and due to the untimely death of his father, gave up what looked like a promising college football and track career. With $200 in the bank and five acres in Sebastopol, California, John began farming produce with help from his mother, Hazel.

The Balletto Family has over 600 acres in the Russian River Valley and select 10% from many different clones and soil types to make their wine. They feel fortunate to sell the remaining 90% of their grapes to other wineries. In July 2010, the Balletto Family was honored being awarded the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year.

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Russian River

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A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

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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, not Pinot noir. 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 Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.

RPT10951398_2013 Item# 142580