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Wenzlau Sta. Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2014

  • RP91
750ML / 0% ABV
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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

Wenzlau

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Wenzlau, 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.
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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.

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Pinot Noir

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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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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.

PSLCWZ014_2014 Item# 355969