94 Points - The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Pinot Noir Top of Land has a pale to medium ruby color and nose of moss-covered bark, laurel and undergrowth with a core of dark cherry and berry fruit—there are a lot of latent aromas here. Light to medium-bodied, it gives wonderfully concentrated dark fruits in the mouth with an earthy character, firm and grainy tannins and juicy freshness, finishing with a great orange peel note. 142 cases produced.
91 Points - The Wine Enthusiast
This is an intensely concentrated wine on entry that reveals its hightoned acidity and cool-climate character over time. Forest floor, orange peel, pomegranate and Asian spice play along a palate of refined balance and enduring complexity.
93 Points - James Suckling
This shows a very balanced and attractive nose with blueberries, violets, orange peel and lemons. The tannins are tight and firm, providing a delicious backbone to the fresh raspberries and berries. Medium-bodied and medium long on the finish. Drink in 2012.
93 Points - Jeb Dennuck, June 2019
More red currants, bay leaf, rose petal, and forest floor notes emerge from the 2016 Pinot Noir Top Of Land, and this has a rounded, sexy style that’s already drinking nicely. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak, it’s beautifully textured, has moderate acidity, and sweet tannins. Drink it anytime over the coming 7-8 years.
Food & Wine
Vibrating with spice, the palate is cut through with cardamom and caraway that are wrapped around tart cherries and cranberries. Excellent concentration.
This nearly opaque garnet hued wine shows great complexity, integrating both the pure fruit and earthy qualities found in fine Pinot Noirs. The grapes for this cuvée are sourced from several of the lowest yielding blocks located at the highest elevations of the Fort Ross Vineyard. Layered aromatics of black cherry, boysenberry and violets are accented by orange peel, cola and bark. The palate opens up with dark berries and juicy black plums followed by a touch of tangy rhubarb and spice that is balanced by the firm, dusty tannins. The Fort Ross Vineyard signature minerality is revealed through the long mouthwatering finish.
2016 was another year of drought throughout California. Fortunately, Fort Ross Vineyard was not affected as the early December rainfall was sufficient to fill our irrigation ponds to capacity and even allowed us to have water at the end harvest. The ideal moderate weather on the coast leading up to harvest was free of heatwaves and rain, allowing the grapes to mature slowly and evenly to reach their optimal development. The Pinot Noir was unhurriedly harvested between September 3 — 20, one of the many advantages of growing grapes overlooking the cool Pacific Ocean. Chardonnay was picked September 17 — 26 and finally the slower ripening Pinotage on September 23 — 28. Our new block of Chardonnay, just off Meyers Grade Road had its first harvest in 2016 and the fruit is showing great promise. The lasting memory of the harvest is a vision of perfect bunches of grapes, with no side wings to delay the ripening, even berry size and a balanced crop hanging on the vines. These wines are vibrant and aromatic with excellent acidity.
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 40% new and 60% neutral French oak. Throughout the 11 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.
CASES: 142 • WINEMAKER: Jeff Pisoni • BOTTLED: Unfined & Unfiltered • CLONAL SELECTIONS: Swan, Pommard & Calera