2018 McDougall Vineyard Pinot Noir
Fort Ross - Seaview
September 17, 2018
Aged 18 months in French oak (50% new barrels)
The mild, even 2018 vintage gave our Sonoma Coast Pinots a particular intensity. The McDougall leads with robust aromas of Bing cherry, black raspberry, and red beets, with a hint of savory bay. There’s a pretty whiff of dried lavender, along with crushed granite, providing additional complexity to the nose. The mouth is equally bold, with high-toned cherry, pomegranate, and cranberry fruit framed by cigar box spice and black tea notes. The texture is supple but firm, and gains breadth and softness with time in the glass. An assertive finish of cherry, Ceylon tea, and minerality confirm this will be a wine that goes the distance. Be sure to put some away to sample over the next 5 to 10 years.
When Mac McDougall purchased his stunning ranch spanning the Gualala River in the early 1960s he had no idea he’d ever be planting grapes on it, but in 1998 old friend Warren Dutton convinced him to do just that. On 9 wind-protected southeast facing acres he planted 2 Dijon clones of pinot. With Mac’s sad passing, his wife Barbara and son Rich now work and stress over it. The site wraps over the ridge at about 1,100 feet and has a spectacular view of the Gualala River, the Pacific Ocean, and Mac’s neighbors at Hirsch and Martinelli vineyards. The fruit has the exceptionally thick skin, deep color and natural spice that is so characteristic of Pinot from the high slopes of the “true” Sonoma Coast. Even in this coastal region, McDougall ripens fairly early, due to its thin, well-drained soil, sheltered south slope and low yields. This same environment also imparts the minerality and solid structure for aging that this area is known for. This vineyard wonderfully represents the wild beauty and intensity of the Sonoma Coast, both in its land and its fruit.
After hand sorting and destemming into small open top fermenters, 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. We punch down 1 to 3 times daily, according to the stage of the fermentation (less often at later stages to avoid harsh tannin pickup), but treat it very gently given the inherently solid structure of Sonoma Coast fruit. After fermentation, the wine is racked into French oak to age, then racked and blended in the spring of 2019 to homogenize the blend, and hone our barrel choices for final aging until bottling in May of 2020. We’ve chosen Taransaud as the signature barrel, for the way it rounds out the edges of this big bold wine.
Food Pairing Notes
If you’re enjoying it young, match the bold concentration with grilled meats, rich duck dishes, or a savory lamb stew. For cheeses, go with aged cheddar, brie, or tangy provolone.
97, PinotFile; 93, Planet Grape