Capiaux Cellars Widdoes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
The 2018 Widdoes swirls as medium dark red in the glass with a purple hue and core. On the nose, cranberries and root beer lead into a mouthful of black cherries and pomegranate with classic Russian River plum and forest floor undertones. Nicely structured tannins.
Sean Capiaux founded Capiaux Cellars in 1994 with the intention of producing small lot, single vineyard bottlings of Pinot Noir, one of the noblest and most difficult varieties to produce. Over the past few decades, Sean has established an impressive career at prominent wineries around the globe. He graduated from California State University with an enology degree in the late ‘80s and began his career at Jordan Winery in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Sean then traveled to Perth, Australia to assist with winemaking at Houghton Winery, later returning to the U.S. to gain notable experience at Peter Michael and Pine Ridge in California as well as Macari, Jamesport and Schneider in Long Island. In 2000, Betty O’Shaughnessy recruited Sean for her new O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery, where he remains today as president and winemaker, while continuing to produce his Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir.
Sean’s winemaking style is a blend of classic and contemporary, utilizing cutting edge equipment paired with hands-on and minimalistic winemaking techniques. His philosophy at Capiaux is to produce wines that express the unique terroir from which they came, and to have the inherent flavors of the grape and land be the leading attributes of the wine rather than additives or winemaking influences. Sean sources fruit on a long-term basis from various sites including Garys’, Pisoni, Wilson, Widdoes, and Starscape Vineyards All the Capiaux vineyards are contracted on a “by-the-acre” rather than a “per-ton” basis, which allows them to prune, shoot-thin and drop crop as they see fit. All wines are naturally fermented, unrefined and unfiltered, with minimal use of new oak to preserve innate flavors and aromas.
While the Russian River Valley is a large appellation with multiple climate zones and soil types, it is best known for cool-climate varieties, with Pinot Noir as the most celebrated. The grapes benefit from a reliable late afternoon flow of Pacific Ocean fog through the Petaluma Gap and along the Russian River Valley that ensures slow and steady ripening and the preservation of grape acidity. Today many of California’s most highly regarded Pinot Noir vineyards are in the Russian River Valley, along with its sub-appellation, Green Valley.
Historically Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs had bright red fruit and delicate earthy, mineral notes. But changes in viticultural and winemaking practices have led to stylistic changes in some of the region’s wines. Adjustments to canopy management, among other techniques, have resulted in riper fruit and bolder wines as well. These show flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cola, spice and darker, loamy earth tones, accenting traditional Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, raspberry and light cherry.