From our mountain vineyard that overlooks the Sonoma Coast in the Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area, 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 32 separate blocks, one-half to two acres in size, that range in elevation from 1700 down to 1200 feet above sea level. Owners, Lester and Linda Schwartz with their small crew began preparing the 52 acre vineyard in 1994. It took them 4 years of preparation before they could begin planting. The year 2000 marked the first vintage from the Fort Ross Vineyard.
90 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
The 2014 Pinotage, Fort Ross Vineyard is terrific, and I suspect it is the finest Pinotage I've ever tasted from outside South Africa. Outstanding notes of scorched earth, black cherries, graphite, and some classic herbal characteristics all give way to a medium-bodied red that has a layered texture, terrific balance and a great finish. Hats off to winemaker Jeff Pisoni for making a truly outstanding Pinotage.
2014 was the third year of bountiful harvests that again produced stellar wine of vibrancy and concentration. Protected from the drought by the late winter rains that quickly filled our pond, we could enjoy one of the few luxuries of being off the grid. As we train our grapes to grow on cordons, with evenly positioned buds that produce evenly placed shoots, we drop clusters that are not perfectly positioned. We worked through the vineyard three times to ensure that the bunches had optimal air circulation and sun exposure. The depth of flavor in the wines from this vintage reflect our meticulous handwork. August 17 marked the beginning of the harvest with picking a select block of Pinot Noir Dijon 777 for our Sparkling Wine. The remaining Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage ripened quickly and evenly and was harvested through September.
Pinotage was first developed in South Africa in 1925 by crossing the two vinifera varieties, Pinot Noir and Cinsault which was called Hermitage at the time. Our Pinotage consists of two Fort Ross proprietary clones, MM1 and MM3, developed at UC Davis from budwood personally imported by Fort Ross from one of the most select Pinotage vineyards in South Africa. The grapes for this Pinotage were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in small two-gallon picking trays. After hand sorting, the fruit was cold soaked for several days and fermented in a single 5 ton tank. During fermentation, the wine was pumped over and sparingly punched down, to carefully control the amount of extraction from the thicker skins in order to produce a well-balanced, age-worthy Pinotage. Shortly after pressing, the wine was barreled in a combination of 20% new and 80% neutral French oak.
Food Pairing Notes
The layered textural complexities and intensity pair beautifully with exotic spices, Italian food, as well as smoked and grilled meats.
CASES: 507 • WINEMAKER: Jeff Pisoni • BOTTLED: Unfined & Unfiltered • CLONAL SELECTIONS: MM1 and MM3