2018 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Russian River Valley
Freestone Hill Vineyard
October 9, 2018
Aged 18 months in French oak (55% new barrels)
Freestone was one of our last Pinot vineyards to be harvested, taking advantage of the long season to pack the grapes with flavor while still maintaining the core of acidity cold sites always provide. The nose bursts with red fruit notes of cranberry and pomegranate, interweaved with Freestone’s signature Asian spice, along with a dash of savory dried herbs. Enveloping layers of fruit and spice flow in the mouth, pirouetting between bright and dark. Complex and beautifully balanced, with assertive and broad tannins, the wine finishes long with rich berry and spice box.
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 incoming fruit is 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. To showcase the focus and concentration of this offering, no press wine is used in the final wine. The wine was racked in the spring of 2019 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
With so much going on, you’ll want foods that aren’t shy either. Pick up the spice notes in the wine with pairings like five-spice rubbed meats, herb-stuffed poultry, mushroom and thyme pot pies, and butterflied lamb. The black pepper in Bellwether’s Pepato and covering Vella’s Mezzo Secco make both of these great cheese matches.
96 - Wine Review Online; 93 - Planet Grape