2018 Devil's Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir
Devil’s Gulch always shines in the postcard-perfect weather years, when it can take the time it needs to ripen slowly and evenly until harvest in October. The weather also provided a reasonable crop, with the vineyard yielding just over 1.6 tons per acre. The final wine has all the Devil’s Gulch fruit and spice characters we love, along with that wonderful combination of power and fineness. The nose leads with sweet wild berries in the forest, ringed with nutmeg and cinnamon. A mélange of brambly berries and redwood duff follows in the mouth that is silky and deep. There’s a great breadth and density that keeps luring you back for more, and reminds you that this is a wine you’ll want to keep trying over the years.
Pinot Noir fans appreciate exotic vineyard sites and eccentric vineyard owners. Mark Pasternak and his Devil’s Gulch vineyard fit the bill on both counts. Located on a steep, convoluted hillside adjacent to the Point Reyes Peninsula in Western Marin County, Devil’s Gulch is a pioneering planting. Mark lives on the property with his family and is truly passionate (some would say obsessive) about increasing the fame of Marin County as a viticultural area. He is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and minimal chemical use. The ranch combines steep terraces (up to 60% grade), shallow soil, the harsh climate of the Marin coast, protected exposures, and well-chosen Dijon clonal selections to produce a small crop of unique fruit. The blustery spring weather of Marin gives us poor set and an extremely small crop of tiny berries, while the reliable late fall weather promotes great phenolic maturity and wild fruit intensity in the wine. For us, wine is all about personality, and Devil’s Gulch is one of our favorite examples of that
The fruit was hand sorted and destemmed into small open top fermenters, then cold-soaked for 5 days in order to gently extract spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. We are particularly gentle on the Devil’s Gulch in order to produce silky wine from the inherently high tannin tiny berries. The incoming fruit was split into two lots—one from the terraces, one from the upper slope—to vary fermentation techniques according to the nature of each particular area. The final blend was assembled from our favorite barrels in each lot in Spring 2019. For this wine, the Seguin Moreau Icone barrels bring out its natural earthiness, and Taransaud fills in an underlying richness. We choose Icone as well for the one year-old barrels to play up the mushroom quality of the wine even more.
Food Pairing Notes
Enjoy it now with Devil’s Gulch rabbit, pork, lamb, or quail that grow with it, in dishes like bacon-stuffed mushrooms and lamb meatloaf; for cheeses, stay local with Nicasio Valley’s Reserve or Foggy Morning.
Wine Enthusiast - Editor's Choice