The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 99 of 116

Winemaker Theresa Heredia and Justin Ennis of Freestone Vineyards, a Joseph Phelps project on the Sonoma Coast. Another influential site is the Freestone Hill Vineyard planted by the Dutton family in 1996. Highlighted by a mixture of Pinot Noir clones planted in shallow soils, most of the fruit from this southeast-facing vineyard is bottled by Dutton- Goldfield Winery. While describing the deep flavors of blueberry, wild berry, earth and untamed sau- vage et animale characteristics in the new 2007 release from the vineyard, co-founder and winemaker Dan Goldfield explains that the best is yet to come. Newer to the local fold is Freestone Vineyards, an adventurous project started by the Napa Valley–based Joseph Phelps Winery in the late 1990s. While looking to expand its Ovation Chardonnay program to the Sonoma Coast, winery president Bill Phelps claims his team became smitten by the idea of working with Pinot Noir as well. Over the past decade, the family has gone on to plant 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 20 acres of Chardonnay vines around the hamlet of Freestone. Winemaker Theresa Heredia, who started at Freestone in 2002, makes two separate Pinot Noirs currently available in the marketplace. The first is Fogdog, a young, juicy and food-friendly Sonoma Coast Pinot that screams to be consumed young. The second is the flagship Freestone Vineyards, a much more intensive wine with plenty of structure, complexity and generous notes of wild berry, cherry, black tea, tobacco and earth. Near Quarter Moon Vineyard and newer plantings by Steve Kistler and Jim Pratt is the biodynamic-certified de Coelo Vineyard developed by Benziger Family in 2000. At an elevation of 600 to 800 feet, this unique east-facing site features a mixture of Dijon clones and Calera and Swan selections planted in two separate blocks called Terra Neuma and Quintus, which are bottled separately to give a true sense of place. When walking on the property with Chilean-born winemaker Rodrigo Soto and consulting vineyard guru Alan York, it becomes very clear that attention to detail is the number one priority at this vineyard. Soto, who also makes separate Pinot Noirs with fruit grown in the warmer Russian River Valley, says the cool climate conditions in Freestone allow him to work with a slow ripening process and give him more time to make decisions leading to harvest. “When the clusters are ripe at 22.5 Brix, you start to question yourself,” says Soto. “But once the grapes are picked, they have unique flavors and intensity that is hard to price. The truth is they reflect what a dynamic site like this is really about.” “To me the goal of planting this vineyard was nothing short of trying to produce the ultimate Pinot Noir and establishing a legacy for many years to come,” says Marimar, who also sells high-end fruit from the vineyard to the Napa Valley–based W. H. Smith Winery. “It’s definitely not a short-term rewards project. But then again, I like a good challenge!” To borrow from the Salt-n-Pepa song, when these vintners and growers in the Freestone region push it, they push it real good. Marimar Estate 2006 Mas Cavalas Vineyard Pinot Noir. In 2001, Marimar Torres planted Pinot Noir between Freestone and the tiny town of Occidental. This 20-acre hillside vineyard is a mixture of Dijon and Pommard clones planted in tight European-style spacing. The name is Catalan for “horse farm,” a reference to the equestrian center on the property. april 2010 / the tasting panel / 99

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