The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 Walking the Pisoni Vineyard, one of five renowned sources for Kosta Browne's Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Kosta Browne 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. { re-discoveries } "WINE IS NOT ABOUT PERFECTION," SAYS DAN KOSTA of Kosta Browne, "it's about the pursuit of perfection." And although Kosta insists his wines were not an overnight success, these allocated Pinot Noirs are certainly being pursued by wine buyers and sell out in advance of release. "Somms are often buying the wines sight unseen, but we do want to help them talk to the customers about our story and about each individual wine." Although they produce a Single Vineyard series and a Winemaker series, we were re-introduced to Kosta Browne's appellation Pinot Noirs, which hail from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands AVAs. "These regional blends allow our winemaking crew to use the vineyards as spice racks and have more fun developing the wines," noted Kosta on his recent visit to The Somm Journal offices. "We choose the vineyards because they all have a story to tell. We're shepherding what those vineyards have to say." Interpreting some of California's most eloquent Pinot Noir vineyards is a privilege that Kosta Browne's wines repay in spades. The Kosta Browne 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir stood out for its herbs and black tea aromatics. Jasmine, cherry and oak-tilled soil spread across the palate. "The winds from the Petaluma Gap or way up the North Coast and in high elevations above the fog line cool the vines," Kosta explains. The commonality of tension and earthy elegance is apparent in all three of the appellation Pinot Noirs; is that attributed to youthfulness? "These wines will soon lose their baby fat," Kosta assures us, "and they'll continue to get more complex." The Kosta Browne 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir shows an abundance of rich, dark, blackberry with wonderful balance of phenolic ripeness. "This vintage was smack dab in the middle of the drought," Kosta points out, "but it's still a great vintage—as the '15 and '16 will be." This red, with its spicy crimson cranberry nose and dusty rose petal exhibit "animale light." The blend is constructed from 46 lots of from one to 12 barrels—"it's like a jigsaw puzzle," says Kosta. Sourced from five renowned vineyards—Soberanes, Rosella's, Garys', Sierra Mar and Pisoni— farmed by Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, the two Garys who brought recognition to this stellar Burgundian grape-growing region in Monterey County, the Kosta Browne 2014 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir pops with up-front cherry madness. Cinnamon toast rounds out the flavor profile with a billowy texture. This is the series' most feminine, ethereal and seamless wine. While Pinot Noir is the major focus with 13 different wines in production, Kosta Browne is beginning to develop a relationship with Chardonnay that is undeniably exciting. The label's one and only Chard is the Kosta Browne 2014 One Sixteen Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. This is a shiny bright white with exotic gardenia notes on the nose. A flush of orange blossom, candied pineapple and white cake is supported by racy nuances. "We started this project in 2009," Dan Kosta tells The Somm Journal. "We named the wine after Highway 116 in the Russian River Valley; it's a blend of several vineyards. We've had a lot of success with it, and there's no doubt our Chardonnay program will keep growing. This variety is not an empty canvas; we're enjoying the challenge of coaxing out the components." Interpreting Elegance PHOTO COURTESY OF KOSTA BROWNE KOSTA BROWNE'S APPELLATION SERIES TRANSLATES TERROIR FOR US by Meridith May

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