Failla Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
The 2018 Failla Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir opens to aromas of wild berries and savory herbs enliven a complex palate with rich tannin, making for an age-worthy classic.
Failla is the project of winemaker and farmer Ehren Jordan, focusing on cool climate sites on the Sonoma Coast and world class vineyards in Oregon. Eschewing traditional routes to a winemaking education, Ehren instead worked his way up the vertical integration ladder. After graduating from college in 1989, he left for Denver, Colorado where he worked briefly as a sales rep for a large wine distributor. But the siren song of ski season in the Rockies grew louder as winter approached and Ehren headed for the restaurant scene in Aspen. Skiing by day and bussing by night, the 21-year-old would-be winemaker went from wine steward to sommelier/manager by the end of the season.
As the snows and drinking crowds melted, Ehren headed to the Napa Valley with a posse of associates from the restaurant on the first leg of what was to be an extended journey during the Aspen off-season. However, finding the funds low, he presented himself on the doorstep of Joseph Phelps Vineyards looking for a temporary job as a tour guide. Three years later, after stints giving tours, working in the cellar, making sales calls with then VP, Bruce Neyers, and managing retail sales, Ehren finally left Phelps to try his hand at winemaking in the venerable vineyards of the Rhône Valley. Celebrated oenologist Jean-Luc Columbo took a chance on the erstwhile Ehren, whom he had met the prior year. A Francophile since adolescence, Ehren threw himself into all aspects of what seemed like turn-of-the-century winemaking in age-old caves and endurance-sport viticulture on the terraced hillsides of Cornas. During the sodden 1992 and 1993 vintages Ehren helped make Les Ruchets, Columbo’s own label, and visited many of Columbo’s clients, among some of France’s most esteemed wine brains.
With 34 harvest under his belt, Ehren has now paved an influential path in the California winemaking world with his long resume of notable winemaking and viticulture jobs, leading to the honor of Winemaker of the Year in 2008 and continual high scores from critics. Marcassin, Neyers Vineyards, Turley Wine Cellars (winemaker for 18 years), and of course his own labels, Failla (established in 1998) and Day (established in 2011), all make up his versatile journey.
Anderson Valley, located in Mendocino County just above Sonoma County, is one of California’s coolest AVAs, allowing it a long growing season. Only 15 miles long, the region makes a slice eastward through the mountains, from the frigid Pacific Ocean. Dramatic diurnal temperature variations here preserve grape acidity and thus freshness in the finished wines. These are prime conditions for growing Pinot Noir, and the valley produces many fine versions. Characteristics of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir typically include crisp acidity, cranberry and strawberry notes as well as earthy notes of forest floor and mushroom.
Still Pinot Noir, however, is only part of the story. Pinot Noir, along with Chardonnay, are also grown for Anderson Valley’s exceptional sparkling wines. Produced via the traditional method, these offer a classic toasty note from lees aging, bright, complex fruit notes and a clean, refreshing character.