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Foppiano Estate Pinot Noir 2011
Foppiano Vineyards is proud of their Italian heritage and deep, 120-year roots in the Russian River Valley. The story of Foppiano Vineyards is a family epic full of tradition, perseverance and contributions to the history of Sonoma County and the wine industry. Founded in 1896 by Giovanni Foppiano, Foppiano Vineyards is Sonoma’s oldest continually operated, family-owned winery. Their family has supplied northern California with wine for over a century surviving Prohibition. They believe that through the strength of family and a commitment to quality, their traditions will be maintained and thrive. The vision of the fifth generation of the Foppiano family guides our winery into the future while creating a world class wine program representative of their history.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Sonoma County, Foppiano Vineyards sits on a 160-acre estate in Russian River Valley, an American Viticulture Area Louis M. Foppiano helped to establish. Cooling morning fog and warm summer days created the ideal microclimate for grapes. Since 1896 their estate vineyards have produced ripe, expressive fruit, enabling our award-winning wines to speak for themselves, vintage after vintage. Their estate Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vineyards thrive in the temperate climate of the Russian River Valley. Foppiano Vineyards’ premier location, combined with their foundation of core family values, has allowed them to produce quality wines for over 100 years. With a great respect for the earth, the family farms their land sustainably and provides the highest level of care and maintenance. It is their goal to ensure the vineyards continue to produce quality fruit for many years to come.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.