2009 Baton Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Laguna Ridge
 
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Bill Vyenielo and Jeff Pinsoni Midnight Harvest on Laguna Ridge

After 14 years at the helm of Peter Michael, working with the likes of Mark Aubert and the Morlet brothers, Bill Vyenielo determined to cautiously hang up his own shingle. He called Paul Sloan, the superb viticulturist, who farms a tiny four-acre Pinot Noir parcel above Graton.

The ridge up here runs north-south. The soils are prized Goldridge, socked with marine fossils -- clams and annelids. Once Sloan's crew started farming the perch, Laguna Ridge Vineyard attracted the Who's Who of the coast, all willing to drop a King's Ransom for a couple tons of Pinot Noir. Vyenielo called in an old favor from Sloan, and in October 2009 -- the Pinot vintage of the decade on the coast -- Bill would make off with a small berry harvest worthy of Peter Michael.

Vyenielo was exhausted when he finally got home at 1:15am. By his count, he'd already exchanged two dozen text messages with winemaker Jeff Pisoni, only one of which concerned the harvest that would soon begin at 2am. The other eleven were about the Cardinal Newman vs. Palma High School football game. Bill's son played for Cardinal Newman. Jeff attended Palma some time back. Fortunately, Bill recalls, the game ended in a 10-10 tie. Otherwise, harvesting that single acre on Laguna Ridge would have been spiced with not-so-playful bickering.

It was pitch black when Vyenielo and his two buddies made it up to Laguna Ridge. All donned miner headlamps, pulled clippers from work belts and went at it. With just a couple dozen rows, the harvest was completed well before daybreak. The clusters were littered with what the Burgundians call millerandages, bunches sporting berries of varied size. When Vyenielo spotted all the sweet, seedless, "shot berries," so common up at Peter Michael, he already imagined the luscious red fruit core that would highlight all the great Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs of 2009.

Jeff Pisoni worked his cellar magic, treating the Pinot Noir to a three-day cold soak and an extended, cool vinification, nursing all the richness from the Laguna Ridge clusters, so beautifully buttressed by riveting coastal backbone. The color is deep ruby red. The aromas are of lush black cherry, raspberry and violets, high-toned and persistent. The attack is textbook 2009, rich and juicy, with almost sourball sweetness, silken and suave in texture. Drink this one now -- if you must -- or still better, do as you would with the Big Boys -- Morlet, Peter Michael, Aubert and Kistler -- and lay the 2009 Baton Pinot Noir "Laguna Ridge" down for 3-4 years. It could use the rest.



Tasting Notes

2009 Baton Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Laguna Ridge
"Glistening deep ruby in color. Piercing aromas of black cherry and red raspberry, laced with sweet herbs. Rich and juicy on the attack, filled with crushed red fruit and wild cherry preserves, all buttressed with the fine acid backbone that is common to all the great Sonoma Coast Pinots of 2009. Drink now -- if you must -- or lay down for 3-4 years. This one could use the rest."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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