RAEN Royal St. Robert Cuvee Pinot Noir 2015
As winemakers and farmers, Carlo and Dante attribute a great deal of what they have learned to their grandfather Robert and father Tim, both whom influenced them from a young age.
Carlo and Dante’s father Tim was a pioneer for California Pinot Noir in the early 1970s and has always had a tremendous regard for the great wines of Burgundy. To this day his Pinot Noirs from the 1970s are showing incredibly well. Carlo and Dante credit their father’s passion for Pinot Noir as the early inspiration that got them excited at a young age.
Dante studied abroad in Switzerland at the Webster University in Genève as well at UC Davis in California. Carlo studied in France at the University of Aix-en-Provence and in Italy at the University of Milan. After their formal studies were complete Carlo and Dante continued their educational work with the winemaking team lead by their father Tim Mondavi at Robert Mondavi Winery and Opus One.
When Robert Mondavi Winery was sold in 2004, the brothers joined their father Tim, Aunt-Marcia and grandfather Robert as they founded Continuum in 2005.
In 2013 Carlo and Dante founded RAEN winery with the goal to produce world class Pinot Noir on the western hills of the Sonoma Coast. RAEN currently focuses on making three Pinot Noirs, from three unique sites on the Sonoma Coast.
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.
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).
Tasting Notes for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a dry red wine, typically diominated by red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles showing black plum and more delicate styles of Pinot giving citrus qualities. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age Pinot Noir can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice and dried fruit.
Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Noir
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of salmon or texture of 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.
Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Noir
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.