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2010 Sonoma Mountain "Red Dog Vineyard"

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About the Vineyard...

The Red Dog Vineyard sits atop Sonoma Mountain on the cool, western side. It was planted in 2000 by Tom and Debbie Engel. This vineyard was planted in order to replace the heralded Steiner Vineyard, and we used cuttings from our Mink Vineyard--a proprietary heirloom selection of Swan Pinot Noir. The vineyard is situated on the eastern face of a ridge, and the top is just under 1000 feet elevation. At this height, the vineyard is almost continually cooled by Pacific currents moving inland through the Petaluma Gap The soils are some of the most ancient soils in Sonoma County and have been leached of nutrients by wind and rain for aeons. It is a truly spectacular vista point but a challenging place to grow grapes.

About the Vintage...

2010 was a challenge to the nerves as well as a chance for experienced wine makers to strut their stuff. In other words, those with experience were advantaged with the working knowledge of how best to manage their vineyards and to keep their fruit clean and healthy. Heavy spring rains were followed by a summer season that was significantly cooler than average. Red Dog, being higher and on the more maritime west slope of the mountain, weathered a mid-season heat spike with little damage. The overall cooler temperatures seemed to have been very positive for the vineyard, developing deep flavors, brilliant acidity, and chalky tannins.
About the Wine...

The grapes were destemmed into our one ton, open top fermenters and cold soaked for 4 days. We punched down by hand 4 times per day at the beginning of fermentation. This was decreased to 2 times per day by the end of fermentation. We innoculated with RC 212 yeast (a Burgundian isolate) and fermented warm, peaking about 94, with additional maceration and skin contact. The wine was aged entirely in French barrels from the Tonnellerie Remond cooperage, and a majority of those barrels were new. The wine was racked once prior to bottling. Wine movements were made by pushing with inert gas all the way until bottling. 197 cases produced.

Tasting Notes...

Subtle and alluring, with a finish that goes on for a long, long time. This vineyard is maturing nicely, exhibiting its dramatically unique terroir within a package of quiet and exotic beauty. The nose opens to an exotic perfume of candied rapsberry, rose hips, cherry, and orange peelcigar, cedar, followed by more organic and rich aromas of cigar, cedar, and forest floor. Spiced throughout with orange peel, cinnamon, lavender, and sage.  The fruit expands in the glass and fills the palate with fresh pomegranate, boysenberry, black cherry, cherry preserve, ripe plums, dried cranberries, and hints of geranium, dried mushroom, clove, and mandarin.  The mouth feel is soft and rich, with a considerable acidic lift. Toward the back, it reveals an earthen and tannic strength, and the finish is long and dominated by fine, dry tannins and dried spices and fruits.  With age this wine deepens and softens, rewarding the palate, while also exhibiting an even more exotic nose as the bouquet develops. Cellar this wine for anywhere from 6-12 year, and beyond.