INSIDER'S PICK: 2014 HALCON VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR MENDOCINO OPPENLANDER VINEYARD (Wine Advocate 93points) $31.99
Anyone that has driven along the Californian coastline -or sat in silence through a friend's or family member's thousands of pictures from their last trip (a little editing would be nice!)- can tell you how much the climate and landscape changes from mile to mile. Most wine fans are familiar with those variations in the more famous growing areas of Sonoma like Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast, as they are a much easier journey from the main population areas around San Pablo Bay. Further North the growing potential of Mendocino is just starting to be scratched outside of the Anderson Valley, and while the region may be too remote to become a tourist destination, the grape quality mandates that wine producers continue exploring. The Oppenlander vineyards is 20 acres of vines sitting on a family farm just 10 miles in from the ocean, uniquely planted to French Dijon clones on their own roots. This was a risky endeavor 20 years ago when they started because 'own rooted' vines are more susceptible to phylloxera and other potential diseases, but through their isolated situation and careful organic farming the vineyard is healthy and among the most sought after sources in Mendocino.
Deep ruby color in the glass, the aromas are big yet restrained, reflecting the cool climate of the vineyard with notes of dark earth and cola behind the briary black fruits, avoiding the bigger boozier profile many of the sweeter Pinot Noirs can show.The palate is equally vibrant and dark, hinting at some tart blackberry skin tannin behind the cool complex dark fruit with very little oak or jammy extracted texture getting in the way of the natural deliciousness. Yes, the farm is also famous for making blackberry jam, but absolutely NONE of it will be found in the wine!
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