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Barham Mendelsohn Pinot Noir 2001

Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    With the Barham Mendelsohn label, Jim Clendenen stretches his Pinot potential to include one of California's best growing regions for this fickle grape. Sonoma County's Russian River Valley Pinot Noir tends to reveal more bright red berry and high toned, warm cinnamon notes compared with the darker, more plummy flavors typical of Santa Barbara Pinots. Juicy, balanced, full of lively, ripe fruit, this wine is perfect for pairing with a succulent, crispy skinned, roast duck.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Barham Mendelsohn

    Barham Mendelsohn

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    Barham Mendelsohn, Russian River, Sonoma County, California
    In 1998, Barbara Barham Mendelsohn and Richard Mendelsohn planted 5 acres of Pinot Noir on Lala Panzi Ranch in the Russian River Valley near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. This was the same year that Jim Clendenen planted his Le Bon Climat estate in the Santa Maria Valley.

    The Mendelsohns engaged successful and experienced viticulturalist Fred Peterson to direct the planting of 6100 vines on their rolling ranch land. He recommended 5 clones, the 114, 115, 667, and the 777 clones from the University of Dijon in Burgundy, and the traditional Pommard selection from UC Davis. Clendenen had planted much of the same material in Santa Barbara at the same time. The Mendelsohns questioned leading wine industry figures and compiled a list of the most successful Pinot Noir producers and cross-referenced it down to three names. After an interview process, a joint venture was proposed to Jim Clendenen, owner of Au Bon Climat. During this mutual discovery period Clendenen was impressed by the beauty of Lala Panzi, the excellence of the site, and the commitment to organic farming. The concurrence of Jim’s idea of clonal selection with Fred Peterson’s ideas and the exciting shared vision of food and wine culture that Jim possessed with the Mendelsohns cemented their relationship.

    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.

    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.

    WWH31U34BM2_2001 Item# 76639