2016 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Russian River Valley
Freestone Hill Vineyard
Aged 17 months in French Oak (55% New)
Open top fermentation, cold soak, punch down
Coastal sites like Freestone appreciate long growing seasons like 2016, which give the wine an extra dose of sweet juiciness to match the richness the small berries provide. The nose pops with bright cherry, dried cranberry, and pomegranate red fruits, underlain with pretty wisteria and nutmeg. With time in the glass, darker notes of black cherry, cardamom, and a beet-like savory note come up, providing an intriguing complexity to the aromas. The intricacy of flavors continues in the mouth, with rich cherry/berry fruit dancing with sandalwood/cinnamon spice, all swathed in firm but velvety tannins. The depth and breadth of the wine is outstanding, and the finish lengthy.
Dutton Ranch’s Freestone Hill Vineyard was the pioneering outpost of the now coveted Salmon Creek viticultural neighborhood. Located in the extreme southwest corner of the Russian River Valley appellation, on the coastal side of the Petaluma wind gap, this area is at the climatic margin for ripening grapes. The fog reaches this neighborhood early and leaves late, but in great years we are rewarded with fruit of extraordinary concentration, balance and personality. Our vineyard, planted in 1996 and 1997, is located on a southeast-facing hillside above the little town of Freestone and only a few miles from Bodega Bay. The difficult flowering conditions give us tiny grape berries, low yield and thick skins for highly concentrated wines. The long cool season and limited crop provides for developed tannins and flavor, along with bright natural acidity and moderate alcohol. The upper 1996 planting includes clones 115, 2A and 114: co-fermented, the result is always dense, aromatic and spicy. The extremely steep 1997 lower planting is all 667, which provides crystalline blackberry/black cherry fruit.
The two blocks are harvested and fermented separately, but were blended soon after draining for long development in the barrel. To showcase the focus and concentration of this offering, no press wine is used in the blend. The individual lots are hand sorted and destemmed into small open top fermenters and the must is the cold-soaked for 5 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. Because of its extremely small berries and thick skins, Freestone sees fewer and gentler punchdowns than many less demanding vineyards. The wine was racked in the spring of 2017 to hone the barrel choices. The unctuous, concentrated Freestone fruit beautifully handles the sweet wood of Fouquet barrels and the mushroom of Seguin Moreau Icone barrels.
Food Pairing Notes
Try it with a mushroom tart, duck confit, or potato and bacon au gratin.