Relic Wine Cellars Putnam Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
This is the second Relic bottling of Putnam Vineyard in Annapolis, and it just keeps getting better. 2015, with its minuscule yields and general warmth, has given us an intense, concentrated, yet supple and lively Pinot Noir. The cool climate character - exuberant, spicy, whole cluster-influenced aromatics of Asian spice, dried herbs, thimble berry, strawberry and white pepper - belie the richly full and voluminous palate. Intense flavors and excellent acidity provide a perfect balance, adding structure and focus. Sweet and supple tannins lead to a finish that lasts and lasts.
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Relic was founded in Napa Valley in 2001 by husband and wife team Michael Hirby and Schatzi
Throckmorton, with a focus on historic winemaking techniques. Inspired by a love of Burgundy, they began making a small amount of Pinot Noir, and have since continued to mine history for old secrets in the making of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast as well as Rhone and Bordeaux varietals from the Napa Valley, where their hillside cave winery is located.
When highly natural, traditional methods such as indigenous yeast fermentation, whole-cluster
fermentation, extended lees ageing, minimal-intervention, etc. - are applied to California’s great terroirs, the resulting wines are world-class, complex, layered, and vibrantly aromatic. The diverse vineyard sources are tended with the utmost care, and are always grown to Relic’s specifications of yield, light exposure, irrigation, etc.
After gaining a degree in Philosophy from Colorado College, Michael worked for 2 years as a
sommelier. Before moving to Napa Valley., he spent an extended period tasting with winemakers in France, where he learned that some contemporary winemaking rules are meant to be broken, and his traditional approach became entrenched. Michael is currently the consulting winemaker for D.R. Stephens Estate, Husic Family Vineyards, Sarocka Estate, Wolf Family Vineyards, Flint Knoll, and MAZE, and was the consulting winemaker at Realm Cellars for 8 years.
Schatzi gained a degree in History from Northwestern before moving to Napa Valley in 1999 to work harvest. Her skills were soon recognized, and she has been busy ever since. Schatzi is the Business Manager for Behrens Family Winery, where she has been for 17 years.
The Sonoma Coast AVA is large in area but, not counting overlapping regions like Russian River Valley, only has a few thousand acres of grapevines—and it’s no wonder. Much of the region is rugged and not easily accessible. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean’s fog and cool breezes limits the varieties that can be cultivated, but it proves to be an ideal environment for high quality Pinot Noir.
Since fog is a frequent fact of life here, as are heavy marine layers that sometimes bring rain, the best vineyards are wisely planted above the fog line, on picturesque ridges that capture enough sun to provide even ripening. That, with the overnight drop in temperature that reliably preserves acidity, results in fine expressions of Pinot Noir that often receive tremendous critic and consumer praise alike, and are often in high demand.