2019 McDougall Vineyard Pinot Noir
Fort Ross - Seaview
September 21, 2019
Aged 18 months in French oak (50% new barrels)
The signature black cherry aromas lead the away, carried on a minerally base and complemented by sassafras, cigar box, and a touch of savory herbs. Even from the smell you get the sense of the firmness and solidity of the wine to come. Sweet waves of rich black cherry continue in the mouth, supported by a scaffolding of bold tannins. Dried cranberry and pomegranate follow, with black tea providing the bass notes. Warm vanilla spice-wrapped cherry pie provides a succulent finish.
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 2020 to homogenize the blend, and hone our barrel choices for final aging until bottling in April of 2021. We’ve chosen Taransaud as the signature barrel, for the way it rounds out the edges of this big bold wine.
Food Pairing Notes
The structure of the wine makes it a great match for grilled meat dishes, and the sweet fruit counterpoints savory herbs nicely. Try it with thyme-rubbed lamb chops marinated flank steak, and Manchego or rosemary and olive oil crusted Asiago cheeses.
93, Planet Grape; 9 - 9.5, Vinography; 95, International Wine Review; 90, Burghound.com; 92, Jeb Dunnuck