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2011 Pinot Noir Symposium

2011 Pinot Noir Symposium

Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast

92 Points - Wine Advocate, Robert Parker
90 Points - Wine Enthusiast

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Aromas of dark fruits and black tea with a hint of sage perfectly introduce the black cherry and raspberry to the palate with subtle notes of spice and earthy bramble. Ripe cherry echoes on the palate, where layers of lush plum and stone fruits intermingle with a whisper of nutmeg and vanilla.

92 Points - Wine Advocate, Robert Parker
The 2011 Pinot Noir Symposium Fort Ross Vineyard is a smaller cuvée made from 97% Pinot Noir blended with 3% Pinotage, which makes sense given the owners are from South Africa. This sees about 15% new French oak and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is spectacular Pinot Noir, with notes of forest floor, Asian soy and plum sauce, mulberry, black cherry and some gamey, smokey notes. The wine is ripe, medium to full-bodied and beautifully made. It should age nicely for 10-12 years or so.

90 Point - Wine Enthusiast
Estate grown and produced, with the added expertise of winemaker Jeff Pisoni, this is an oaky, stemmy and earthy coastal wine, silky and seamless in red cherry, pomegranate, nutmeg and brambly black tea. Exotic, slightly savory and well-restrained, it includes 3% Pinotage, another specialty of the producer. —V.B.


Wine Specs

Vintage 2011
Varietal Pinot Noir
Appellation Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast
Vineyard Designation Fort Ross Vineyard
Harvest Date September 24, 2011 - October 2, 2011
Aging 10 months in 100% French oak; 15% new
Bottling Date August 2012 Unfined & Unfiltered
Alcohol % 13
Wine Enthusiast 90
Wine Advocate 92

Wine Profile

Vineyard Notes From our mountain vineyard, now part of the new Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area that includes the few steep mountain top vineyards that overlook the Sonoma Coast, Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery produces limited quantities of single vineyard, Estate grown, cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage. With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean less than one mile away, the vineyard is divided into 30 separate blocks, one-half to two acres in size, that rapidly fall from 1700 down to 1200 feet above sea level. Owners, Lester and Linda Schwartz and their small crew began preparing the 50 acre vineyard in 1994. It took them 4 years of preparation before they could begin planting the first vines in 1998. Winemaker Notes
Production Notes On the Sonoma Coast we are used to dripping coastal fog and winter rains of up to 125" a year. The growing cycle generally starts late in this cool, maritime climate but the 2011 spring was unusually cold and wet. The vineyard remained dorment until May when the days suddenly grew hot and the vines burst into action three months later than usual. In June, during bloom, the clusters were well positioned on the vines. Then it rained once more resulting in far less cluster development than expected. During the cool summer the grapes did increase their pace to make up for lost time and miraculously developed vibrant flavors at far lower degrees Brix. With some hot weather the sugar levels did increase but still remained far lower than in previous vintages. Unexpected early fall rain, followed by thick fog, caused many vineyards to pick their crop before optimal ripeness. All around Sonoma County were horror stories of rot raging through the vineyards and grapes being picked at 19° Brix. Each of our blocks were left to ripen as long as the grapes remained healthy and made significant gains in flavor. Finally most of of the vineyard was picked at about 22° Brix which converts into wine of approximately 13% alcohol. It was going to be a vintage of low alcohol levels. We were fortunate that the wild Sonoma Coast gave us another unexpected gift - time to wait patiently before harvest.
Winemaker Notes The grapes for this Pinot Noir were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in 2 gallon trays After hand sorting, the fruit was cold soaked for several days and fermented in a combination of 5 and 10 ton tanks. The caps were punched down 1 or 2 times per day, depending on the stage of the fermentation. The wines were then barreled in a combination of 15% new and 85% neutral French oak. Throughout the 10 months of barrel aging, the clones and different vineyard blocks were kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components as blending elements. The wine was bottled unfined & unfiltered. After extensive blending trials we decided on 95% Pinot Noir and 3% Pinotage.
Production 548 cases 750ml
Other Notes SELECTIONS: Pinot Noir: Calera, Pommard, Dijon 115 & 777 ~ Pinotage: MM1