The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Page 73 of 119

74 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { sonoma } TASTING NOTES I recently tasted through wines—mostly Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, but with a couple of ringer Syrahs—from several of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners member wineries. All prices are suggested retail. Charles Heintz 2012 Pinot Noir, Charles Heintz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($48) Lively cherry fruit with earth and savory qualities; fresh, elegant and vibrant; long and lifted. 91 Charles Heintz 2012 Syrah, Charles Heintz Vineyard, Sonoma Coast ($46) Dark and rich with lovely boysenberry and blackberry fruit; tangy and elegant with great structure and finesse; notes of spice, pepper and tobacco; complex and stunning—a signal that this region may not be only about Pinot Noir. 94 Emeritus Vineyards 2012 William Wesley Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($68) Lush and rich but elegant and juicy with spice, tangy cherry and savory notes; silky and balanced, long and bright. 92 California's Côte d'Or WEST SONOMA COAST VINTNERS, FOUNDED IN 2010, is an asso- ciation of growers and wineries dedicated to preserving and protecting the history, landscape and culture of the West Sonoma Coast (as distinct from the broader—some say too broad—Sonoma Coast AVA) and to promoting this region's wines to the media, trade and the public. The group originally consisted of six founders but quickly grew and now numbers more than 40 member growers and wineries. One of the original founders, Carroll Kemp of Red Car Wine, notes that the group is doing the preliminary research necessary before filing a petition for a new AVA that would nestle inside the existing Sonoma Coast AVA. "We're not doing this for marketing purposes," Kemp emphasizes, adding, "We want to make sure everything is in place before we begin the AVA process." The vintners have identified four main factors that contribute to West Sonoma Coast terroir: a maritime climate that combines relatively cool daytime temperatures with warm night temperatures; a stable, cool ocean temperature that prevents extreme weather spikes and troughs; fog and wind that mod - erate temperature and balance humidity; and precipitation that is ample but rare during growing season. These factors are particularly conducive to Pinot Noir; cooler daytime temperatures slow sugar accumulation and extend grow - ing seasons, which in turn increase flavor ripening (phenolic development); warmer nighttime temperatures balance sugar and flavor ripeness with acidity. Situated at a latitude of 38 degrees, the northern vineyards of the West Sonoma Coast tend to be on band of coastal ridges less than five miles from the Pacific Ocean, while the region's southern vineyards extend further inland (up to eight miles from the Pacific) and sit on lower elevations. The region includes the distinctive growing areas of Fort Ross–Seaview, Occidental, Freestone, Annapolis, Green Valley and Sebastopol Hills—West Sonoma Coast communes, if you will. "We will always be Pinot Noir– and Chardonnay-dominant," says Kemp, "because that's what the region demands." Pockets of other varieties, however, are promising, including exceptional Syrah, as my notes show. WEST SONOMA COAST VINTNERS ARE A BAND APART by Anthony Dias Blue

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