Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Passion for Pinot Noir and Terroir - Deloach Vineyards, Santa Rosa California

After a sudden long cold and rainy week, the warm sunshine that dawned upon the vineyards of Northern California this past weekend was a welcome sight. Many wineries were in a mad dash to harvest their grapes before the rain came, some were harvesting in the rain and others decided to wait it out in hopes that in allowing their grapes more hang time they’ll produce a better wine than those who may have jumped the gun.

Having visited Inman Family Wines last week and enjoyed their Pinot Noir, this past weekend I returned to Santa Rosa to visit a neighboring winery and one of the pioneers of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - DeLoach Vineyards.

DeLoach Vineyards was founded by Cecil DeLoach, a San Francisco firefighter with a passion for winemaking. Cecil and his wife Christine bought the Barbieri Ranch Vineyard in 1970. Located in the heart of the Russian River Valley on Olivet Lane, this 24-acre vineyard had been planted to Zinfandel in 1905. Then in 1973 they added another 27-acre vineyard and planted Pinot Noir where the De Loach Vineyards winery exists today. In 1975 Cecil took an early retirement and devoted himself entirely to winemaking.

Then in 2003, DeLoach Vineyards was purchased by the Boisset Family Estate - an innovative, eco-minded, family-owned producer and importer of fine wines in Burgundy, France. Jean-Charles Boisset, President of Boisset Family Estates, fell in love with the Russian River Valley when he first toured the area and recognized the similar terroir of Sonoma County and Burgundy as they both have a confluence of river, mountains, and soil that is perfect for growing world-class Pinot Noir.

Jean-Charles and the Boisset Family Estates has implemented organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farming practices at the family’s vineyards using these eco-friendly practices in their estate vineyards in Burgundy. In 2004 the family brought that vision to DeLoach Vineyards and employed their dedication to the environment when they uprooted the award-winning, highly-lauded vineyards and replanted with cover crops designed to revitalize the soil. New vines were then planted in 2006, and the first vintage grown with biodynamic farming techniques will be the eagerly-awaited 2010 vintage.

If you are passionate about Pinot Noir and care about quality wines and the earth that produces them, then you’ll want to visit and enjoy the wines of DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa California.

Although they had several other wines offered for tasting, such as Zinfandel, on my visit to DeLoach I chose to focus on their Pinot Noir. Sadly, unlike their neighbor Inman Family Wines, they do not use Pinot Noir stemware and I had forgotten mine. So although I enjoyed their wines, I am sure I would have appreciated them more if they used them.

My first pour was the 2008 Thorton Vineyard Pinot Noir. It is bright red with a potpourri bouquet of raspberry, Asian spices and rose petals, and a touch of pepper.  On the palate this wine delivers tart cherries with focused red berries, blood orange with a slight peppery finish. A nice wine for $45 a bottle.

My second wine was the 2009 O.F.S. (Our Finest Selection) Vineyard Pinot Noir. The wine was slightly muted on the nose but was otherwise very similar to the 2008 Thorton Vineyard Pinot Noir yet with a slightly “sweet” impact on the initial entry. A nice wine for $40 a bottle. I suspect the nose would be more revealing IF it was served in the appropriate stemware.

My third wine was the 2008 Maboroshi Vineyard Pinot Noir. The Maboroshi Vineyard is located in the Sebastopol Hills section of Russian River Valley. This organically farmed hillside vineyard sits between 400 and 600 feet above sea level. Maboroshi Vineyard was planted in 1999 to two clones; Dijon 667 and 115. This wine is a bit earthier than the preceding Pinots and it is brighter and fresher as the nose exudes fresh strawberries, dried cinnamon stick, root beer and a perfume that grabs your senses. On the palate black cherry envelop your palate as if you are sucking on a hard cherry candy. The fruit is then followed by a touch of vanilla and black pepper and persist in the finish. A REALLY nice wine for $45 a bottle.

My final and favorite wine in the line up was the 2007 Masút Vineyard Pinot Noir. The nose displays and more interwoven bouquet of cherries, strawberries, vanilla, and a hint of ocean breeze. On the palate there are layers strawberry pie, black cherry, a touch of cranberry, a dash of sage and a slightly salty minerality followed a hint of cedar box and vanilla. A very close match in quality and finesse with the Maboroshi Vineyard Pinot Noir, but I think this is a better vintage as it had a more deliberate impact on my nose and palate. So, for $45 a bottle I brought one home to add to my growing Pinot Noir collection.

For more information or to visit:

DeLoach Vineyards
1791 Olivet Road
Santa Rosa, California 95401
Telephone: 1-707-526-9111