2018 Azaya Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir
The even and long 2018 season suited our cool Marin sites well, giving them plenty of time to accumulate juicy richness. This offering is particularly luscious in the nose, overflowing with s perfume of sweet raspberries in the summer sun and strawberry compote. The mouth is lithe and bright, with red cherry, fresh cranberry, and pomegranate. Baking spice notes of cinnamon and allspice provide a refined frame to the fruit. Cherry pie continues through the lively and energetic finish.
We at Dutton-Goldfield have a special affinity for exotic sites in sparsely planted Marin County, and Azaya Ranch perfectly fits the bill. Mark Pasternak planted Azaya Ranch for the McEvoy family on an ideal south and west facing hill in Hicks Valley. This could be the sweet spot of Marin Viticulture: in the cold heart, but on a protected, well-drained slope. Mark and Dan chose 5 clones for this 18-acre ranch: 667, 828, 115, 777 and a touch of 2A. The fruit ripens very slowly, but the tiny berries stay plump and develop thick, chewy skins. For the Dutton-Goldfield offering, we harvest the 667 for its focused dark fruit character and structure, the 828 for its lively high tones, and a touch of 115 for its aromatic beauty. With its great natural acidity, the hallmark of this neighborhood is precise and nuanced berry fruit, lively intensity, and a refreshing lingering finish.
After hand sorting and destemming into a small open top fermenter, the must is cold-soaked for 7 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. To further this aim, no SO2 was used at the crusher. Gentle treatment helps bring the innate floral and berry notes of this wine to the forefront and preserve its intricate complexity. We punch down 1 to 3 times daily, according to the stage of the fermentation; less often and shorter at later stages to avoid bitter tannin pickup. After initial aging in 45% new wood, we blended in the early spring to homogenize the wine and hone our barrel choices. The bright and juicy nature of the wine loves to soak up the earthy spice of Seguin Moreau Icone barrels, and absorb the sweet toffee of Taransaud barrels.
Food Pairing Notes
The freshness of the wine makes it a perfect foil for rich accompaniments like rabbit terrine or charcuterie, but you could also go the other direction and keep it light with roasted chicken, a vegetable tart, or grilled salmon. Try it alongside fresh young cheeses like a soft creamy goat or Feta, or a sweet mild Gouda.
Wine Enthusiast - Cellar Selection; 93, Ken's Wine Guide