The Donum Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017
This Russian River Valley Pinot Noir comes from the Nugent vineyard, planted in 1997 by Anne Moller-Racke and Joe Nugent. The natural variations in soil across the vineyard, along with the blend of Dijon and heritage clones, results in a complex wine, with richness from the 667 and elegance and finesse from the Pommard and Calera clones. Fog from the Pacific generally recedes fairly early in the day resulting in plenty of sun, but prevailing winds from the west keep this site cooler in the afternoon, allowing for extended hang time. Starting in 2012 we began to include some fruit from the Pommard block in the estate blend.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The appellation 2017 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley is outstanding, and while I can’t say it represents a good value, it’s a terrific Pinot Noir with lots of character. Gamey herbs, spice, forest floor, and floral notes all emerge from this medium-bodied, beautifully balanced Pinot that has nicely integrated acidity, fine tannins, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming 5-7 years.
Founded in 2001, the Donum Estate in the acclaimed wine region of Carneros brings to life a delicate balance between wine, land and art that has made it an international destination for enthusiasts and connoisseurs everywhere. Celebrating its 20th vintage this year, the Donum Estate creates single vineyard, single appellation Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from small lots that distinctly express the characteristics of each terroir. Each bottling represents a unique voice.
The Donum Estate spans over 200 acres, with nearly 150 planted. Its winemaking practices create environments in which the vines can thrive and produce the highest-quality fruit as possible, with as little intervention as possible. Sustainability is at the forefront of the Donum Estate vision—let the land lead. Donum, in fact, is Latin for Gift of the land.
More than 40 large-scale, open-air sculptures live harmoniously among the Donum Estate landscape and vineyards. Dotted throughout, each piece plays with scale, nature, and imagination. Many pieces were curated in collaboration with Donum’s owners and the artist, uniquely created to fit with the land. The collection brings together a global community of artists, including works from Ai Weiwei, Keith Haring, Subodh Gupta, Doug Aitken, and many more, with art lovers who themselves represent the world.
It’s the commitment to this partnership—between wine, land and art—that has created a truly interactive experience at the Donum Estate. To visit, and to enjoy its wine, is to feel the living, breathing balance that makes it come alive.
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While the Russian River Valley is a large appellation with multiple climate zones and soil types, it is best known for cool-climate varieties, with Pinot Noir as the most celebrated. The grapes benefit from a reliable late afternoon flow of Pacific Ocean fog through the Petaluma Gap and along the Russian River Valley that ensures slow and steady ripening and the preservation of grape acidity. Today many of California’s most highly regarded Pinot Noir vineyards are in the Russian River Valley, along with its sub-appellation, Green Valley.
Historically Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs had bright red fruit and delicate earthy, mineral notes. But changes in viticultural and winemaking practices have led to stylistic changes in some of the region’s wines. Adjustments to canopy management, among other techniques, have resulted in riper fruit and bolder wines as well. These show flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cola, spice and darker, loamy earth tones, accenting traditional Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, raspberry and light cherry.