What happens when top producers see the market softening? They back off, even at the last minute, and decrease their own bottling. But, what to do with the overproduction? Most go first to what's called the "bulk market," an exchange where excess wine is sold to the highest bidder. But the best lots usually go to a small cadre of talented 'insiders'. In the past, when Pinot Noir insider Ken Bernards of Ancien put out a release of his side project Definitive Pinot Noir, the wine was a blend of Pinot Noirs from several wineries. Not so this time.
The 2007 Definitive Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is gorgeous, bursting with sweet red fruit and beautifully integrated, but why is it so spectacular this vintage? Because this time there was no blending. The wine in this bottle is identical to that which you can find under an expensive, celebrated brand. Which one? Well, that's the secret.
We've known Ken Bernards for years. Ken is so well respected in the Pinot world that he consults for producers from Oregon's Willamette Valley to Carneros, Russian River, Santa Rita Hills, and even Chile's cool Casablanca Valley. So, when Ken suggested we taste his 2007 Definitive Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, we were intrigued. But even knowing all that we do about Ken, we weren't prepared for what we found in this 2007 Definitive Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
So we asked the obvious question. "What's in the blend?" Ken smiled. "I can't tell you that, of course. But there is no blend. This is the exact same wine as what this really excellent winery put into their own bottles." Then he smiled.
This is pure 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir -- full of fresh red fruits and the sweet spice of fine French cooperage -- vanilla, coriander, cardamom. The mid-palate is packed with berry fruit, but the wine stays bright and clean through the finish. This sumptuous pinot's true identity may be a mystery, but for this quality at this price we are willing to stay in the dark.
Winemaker Ken Bernards
Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"Deep ruby hue. Opens with fresh red cherries and currants, then a sweet barrel note of baking spices. There's plenty of ripe fruit in the middle of the palate, always balanced by the brightness of the cool-climate origin. Soft and delicious from start to finish, clean and lively, classic Sonoma Coast fruit from the superlative 2007 vintage."