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Wenzlau Sta. Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2014

Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
  • RP91
0% ABV
  • RP92
  • W&S92
  • RP91
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Winemaker Notes

Organically farmed and planted on tierra loam soils as well as diatomaceous outcroppings (lots of crushed sea shells and river rocks), this very west slope gets pounded by the onshore flow coming off the Pacific. The struggle these vines endure to send their roots deep into the signature Sta. Rita Hills dense black clay soil to steady themselves against the constant wind from this elevated plot give the fruit’s juice added complexity.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Coming from three different clones (667, 2A and 115) and aged 18 months in 30% new French oak, the pretty, floral, elegant and juicy 2014 Pinot Noir is a downright classy, elegant and lightly textured effort that's beautifully balanced and silky on the palate. Showing the more feminine side to the variety, it should evolve nicely for a decade.
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Wenzlau, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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Wenzlau Vineyard sits on the western edge of the Santa Rita Hills AVA in Lompoc, CA. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are grown on 12-½ acres that are split into a lower vineyard (Chardonnay) and an upper vineyard (Pinot Noir). The two vineyards sit in the middle of a 100-acre parcel, so the vines are surrounded by 88 acres of open, natural terrain. Aside from the breathtaking beauty, the benefits to this up-down topography are clear. The lower vineyard fronts onto the Santa Ynez River where the 5 acres of Chardonnay vines grow in silty soil and river rock. The grapes ripen slowly because they sit under a blanket of fog until mid-day, from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Adjacent to the 5 acres of Chardonnay is a ½ acre fruit orchard, which brings an abundance of pollinators, as well as lots of beautiful fruit. There is a steep canyon leading to the upper vineyard with 7-½ acres of Pinot Noir grapes. The upper vineyard gets a cool, steady breeze from the Pacific Ocean, which is just 7 miles away. This allows the grapes to ripen slowly to maximize flavor without the sugar spike (and high alcohol) brought on by hotter climates. The abundance of open space, cool climate, air circulation and ample supply of pollinators create a naturally healthy, well-balanced eco-system. The basis of our philosophy is simple. Provide the healthiest possible environment for the vines to thrive and then get out of nature’s way. Our organic farming is based on a system of cover crops, composting and hand farming, with minimal irrigation. In 2011 we farmed bio-dynamically to learn about those practices that benefit our specific plot. While we work hard to provide ample attention to our vines, we realize that Mother Nature is really in charge. In the end, it is the cool, breezy climate at Wenzlau Vineyard that makes it a sweet spot for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

Sta. Rita Hills

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A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.

The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

PSLCWZ014_2014 Item# 355969