Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003
Tasting at Marcassin with Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer is one of the more satisfying appointments a wine critic could have. This is commitment to excellence at its highest level. An unwavering, uncompromising brilliance and focus is reflected in not only meticulous work in the vineyard, but also in highly detailed winemaking that consistently succeeds in producing some of the finest Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the world. Even more interesting, since they have rarely given interviews, will be the two books that Turley and Wetlaufer are writing independently of each other. They possess an accumulation of knowledge and experience that is, as the advertising industry would say, "priceless." Hopefully some of that will soon make its way onto the written pages for future generations."
-Robert Parker, Wine Advocate
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
If you haven’t heard of Helen Turley, or tasted one of her wines, you’ve definitely not been paying close enough attention to the wines coming out of California in the last 10 years. She is arguably one of the most influential winemakers in the business, receiving critical acclaim for almost every wine she touches. Aside from her own boutique winery, Marcassin, which she runs with husband John Wetlaufer, Helen has been the consulting winemaker for some of the best wineries in the country – Colgin, Bryant Family, Martinelli – just to name a few.
Marcassin (french for 'young wild boar') is a VERY small winery – in fact it’s so small that the wines have actually been made at the Martinelli winery in Russian River Valley. Located on the Sonoma Coast, the Marcassin vineyard is planted to 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is about 10 acres in size. Fruit for the other vineyard designated wines is sourced from other neighboring vineyards. Marcassin will always be a small winery; John & Helen feel the perfect size is 100 barrels, enough for 2,500 cases.
Helen’s winemaking philosophy is simple: great vineyards, meticulously farmed, limited yield, long hang time and natural yeast. She approaches every project with these same priorities.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Sonoma County wines are produced with carefully selected grape varieties to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
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.”