Calera de Villiers Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
Once again, de Villiers has produced one of Calera’s most voluptuous and dark-fruited expressions of Pinot Noir, with alluring aromas of blackberry, cassis and cedary cigar box. On the palate, lush dark berry and black currant flavors are supported by a firm tannic backbone that frames the fruit and carries the wine to a long, energetic finish.
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De Villiers was planted in 1997 on largely east-facing slopes high on Mt. Harlan. Josh Jensen used that fruit to produce this dark, smoky pinot noir. It quickly sheds its leather savor in favor of dark, burnished cherry spiced with pipe tobacco, cradled by oak but hardly dominated by it. Showing well now, it’s built for the long haul.
There is impressive density to the bottling, starting with aromas of roasted black cherry and blackberry as well as cocoa and wood spice. It’s heavy on the palate with full flavors of blackberry, bay leaf and more dark chocolate.
Aged 17 months in 30% new French oak, the pale to medium ruby-purple colored 2016 Pinot Noir deVilliers Vineyard opens with warm blueberries, dried cherries and cranberries aromas with notions of fresh strawberries, dried herbs, dusty earth, underbrush and charcuterie. The palate is light to medium-bodied with earth and Angostura bitters-laced fruits, a grainy frame and bright freshness on the finish.
In 1975, legendary vintner and American wine pioneer Josh Jensen founded Calera (Spanish for “lime kiln”) high in the remote Gavilan Mountains of California’s windswept Central Coast. There, in Mt. Harlan’s low-yielding, limestone-rich soils and cool, arid climate, he began planting what would ultimately become six small estate vineyards. Today, these vineyards are recognized as some of the New World’s most revered Pinot Noir sites.
Under the stewardship of Winemaker Mike Waller, each vineyard is renowned for producing singular wines of uncommon purity, elegance and aging potential. In addition to its beloved single-vineyard wines, Calera partners with some of the top vineyards on California’s majestic Central Coast to make Calera’s beautiful Central Coast wines, including a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
At elevations reaching well over 2,000 feet, the Mt. Harlan AVA in the Gabilan Range is an anomaly among its surrounding Central Coast appellations. Recognizing the splendor of the area and its ideal limestone-rich soils, Josh Jensen chose Mt. Harlan as the home of his Calera Wine Company in the 1970s. Awarded his own AVA in 1990, Calera is the only commercial winery in the appellation.
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.”