When at the MacPhail cellar door, I was especially interested to acquire two contrasting Pinots for later tasting, and purchased this as well as the Gap’s Crown Vineyard wine on the recommendation of Assistant Winemaker William Weese. The two vineyards are near to each other, but the wines to which they give rise are quite different. While the Gap’s Crown wine is a luscious, fruit-forward expression of Pinot, this brings structure to the fore and prefers a flavour profile with more prominent savouriness.
That said, it shares much stylistically with other Pinots I have recently tasted from various AVAs within Sonoma County; that is, it’s a relatively large scale wine. Aromatically, it’s very expressive and quite dark, with a thread of minerality that takes dark berry fruit into quite different territory from the Gap’s Crown. It’s sappy and slightly medicinal; totally varietal, in fact, yet at the same time rich and plush. No wonder Pinots from Sonoma have found such a receptive audience; this is Pinot for Zinfandel drinkers, a gateway to different flavours without the challenge of excessively light colour or body.
The palate is quite sappy and fresh, with noticeably more structure (both acid and tannin) than the Gap’s Crown. Unlike the latter wine, this is tighter through the middle palate, avoiding excess broadness and keeping things brisk, though full. The after palate lightens, perhaps too much, before fresh tannins bring the finish to a close. This isn’t a wine that penetrates aggressively the back of the mouth, but it does in fact have good length in its gentle manner.
It’s difficult to generalise on the basis of two bottles, from a difficult vintage to boot, but there are clear differences between these two labels and I’m excited to find a producer so intent on illuminating special sites through this most transparent of red grape varieties.
MacPhail Family Wines