Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018
The 2018 Pinot Noir highlights fragrant violet, rustic baking spices and cedar notes followed by juicy raspberry, black cherry and hints of red currant. Focused and youthful with a lifting acid length, black pepper spice and orange peel essence.
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From a majority of estate-grown grapes and percentage of grower fruit, this impressive wine is juicy, textured, layered and lengthy. With a cool-climate crispness at its foundation, it unfurls lovely flavors of dark plum, wild strawberry and orange peel, finishing in a touch of nutmeg
Vitality, brightness and very keen fruity precision rather than heady ripeness have for long been the hallmarks of Phelps’s Freestone Pinots, and, if those virtues are once again on display in this outing, the 2018 edition ups the ante a touch in terms of juicy, optimally ripened fruit. It displays an extra bit of richness and range that, combined with its typically firm and lively balance, guarantee many years of positive growth ahead. Enjoy it while still young for its vigor and verve, but know that appreciably more complexity awaits.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines. Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. In 1999, the Phelps family added 100 acres of vineyard property near the town of Freestone on the Sonoma Coast, where Phelps now grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Insignia, first produced in 1974. Awarded Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking.
A vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
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.”