Eden Rift Estate Pinot Noir 2017
Extremely focused showing red and black fruit. As it opens it reveals spiced cranberry, wild blackberry, black cherry, pomegranate and violet, black tea and minerality. Offers a great finish and will continue to evolve over the next decade or longer.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Quite light in the glass, this estate bottling starts with aromas of raspberry and dried tarragon. The palate is enveloped in wild thyme and other dried herbs, which decorate the base flavors of pomegranate and raspberry, with a zippy acidity throughout.
Grapes for this were harvested September 5, 14 and 21 and the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak. Pale ruby, the 2017 Pinot Noir Estate has very pretty scents of gravel dust, fresh cranberries, strawberry-rhubarb, cinnamon stick and dried leaves with notes of tar, dried citrus peel and lilac. It’s light to medium-bodied and restrained but nuanced with a gentle texture and mouthwatering freshness on the bright finish. Such a lovely, lifted style.
Leading off the reds, the 2017 Pinot Noir Estate reveals a deeper ruby hue as well as notes of sour cherries, sassafras, spice-box, and exotic flowers. It’s rounded, medium-bodied, has light tannins, and a great finish, all making for a terrific, complex Pinot Noir to drink over the coming 4-6 years.
In the careful hands of early pioneers when California was still under Mexico’s flag, Eden Rift is one of the oldest continually operating estates in the US and is home to some of the earliest New World Pinot Noir plantings in 1861. The property’s first vineyards were planted in 1849 by a Bordeaux wine merchant. As the estate came into new ownership, the wines produced swept national and international competitions. Since then, the estate has changed hands several times, at one point producing wines under the label Valliant, belonging to the internationally known Hiram Walker House.
Today, the current proprietor of the estate, Christian Pillsbury, lives in the Dickinson House, a residence on the property fenced in by original Zinfandel plantings from 1906. Drawn to purchase the estate because of a personal connection, Pillsbury sees himself as chaperone of a place deeply important to the lineage of California wine. Before purchasing, Christian and his team researched the property’s daily temperature rhythms, soil, wind patterns and macro and micro climates to find the winery’s main focus, which has come to be Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition to wine, the Eden Rift Estate also houses a granite stone mill that produces certified organic olive oil and is open to neighboring wineries for use on their own olive oil production.
With Christian’s vision in toe, he teamed up with venerable winemaker, Cory Waller. Cory is no stranger to American Pinot Noir, having studied under Napa’s Tony Soter and Oregon’s Josh Bergstrom and Jim Prosser. He was also assistant winemaker at the iconic California winery, Calera. Cory is well suited to the uber local project. Born and raised nearby, he boasts local farmers, ranchers and fishermen as some of his closest friends. His winemaking style limits intervention while focusing in the vineyard on vine stress and low yields. Since Christian’s purchase, Eden Rift has received attention from both local and National publications in its first two vintages.
Part of the larger Central Coast AVA, the valley was historically an important source of grapes for Almaden Vineyards before it was acquired by Constellation Brands in the 1980s. At 1,100 feet, the San Andreas Fault divides the valley so that one side is granite and sandstone, and the other is granite and limestone.
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.”