EnRoute Winery Les Pommiers Pinot Noir 2014
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EnRoute was established in the Russian River Valley in 2007 by the partners of Napa Valley’s Far Niente winery. Devoted to producing Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, EnRoute introduced its first wine, “Les Pommiers,” in May 2009. Les Pommiers is named for the apple orchards that once flourished in the region, and reflects a blend of vineyards primarily from Green Valley and the upper Middle Reach area of the Russian River Valley AVA.
The name, EnRoute, is a nod to the journey the partners—including Beth Nickel, Erik Nickel, Jeremy Nickel, Dirk Hampson and Larry Maguire—have taken on their way to producing Pinot Noir, which began in the 1980s in Burgundy. While Far Niente’s vision is exclusively focused on Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the partners still enjoyed traveling and tasting the great Pinot Noirs of the world. Eventually, sister winery Nickel & Nickel’s single-vineyard program provided the opportunity to venture into the Russian River Valley. After a few years of producing wines from Russian River, the partners decided to make a serious commitment to the region, acquired two remarkable vineyards and established EnRoute, devoted to Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.
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.