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Raeburn Pinot Noir 2016
Brilliant crimson in color, Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir leads with a pleasing aroma of baking spice and vanilla. The palate is marked with stunning fruit flavors of lush wild blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry with undertones of roasted hazelnut. The finish is graceful and sophisticated.
The Pinot Noir grapes are hand-picked during the cool early morning hours to preserve their fresh, delicate flavors. Once the grapes arrive at the winery, they are carefully destemmed and cold soaked for several days to enhance color and flavor. Fermentation takes place in small, open top containers with twice daily punch downs to intensify color and structure. After a gentle pressing, the wine is racked several times and transferred into French oak barrels, 25% new, for 11 months of aging.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Spiced red cherries and hints of freshly baked pastry lead to a palate that has a ripe, languid array of fine tannins and plush red-plum flavors.
Raeburn is an Olde English term which means “the river where one goes to drink.” So, it’s fitting that Raeburn’s expressive, beautifully balanced wines begin in the heart of the Russian River Valley where some of the world’s finest Burgundy grapes are grown.
Raeburn Winery is located on Olivet Road, a quiet country lane in the heart of Sonoma County’s famed Russian River Valley. Originally built in as an egg storage facility, Olivet was converted to a small production winery by iconic Sonoma County vintner, Cecil DeLoach, in 2000. The winery was then purchased by wine and spirits innovator, Derek Benham, in January 2005 and has since become Raeburn’s home
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, not Pinot noir. 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 Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.