2007 DuNah Pinot Noir DuNah Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley
 
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DuNah Estate and Winemaker Greg La Follette Don't Ask Why. We're Not Telling.

In the early 1990s, few young American winemakers would get their careers off with a bigger bang than Greg La Follette. After being recruited by Beaulieu Vineyard to work beside the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff, La Follette's stock took off like a rocketship. In 1996, at barely 30 years of age, La Follette was named GM and head winemaker at Flowers, crafting some of the most sought-after Pinot Noirs on the coast.

While most of La Follette's time was spent in the barrel room, Greg was constantly on the lookout for new vineyards. In 1999, he got a call about a 10-acre vineyard, owned by Rick and Diane DuNah. La Follette knew the spot and wasted no time. DuNah's small berry clusters would become the primary component in one of the most revered Flowers Pinot Noirs of its era, the 2000 Andreen Gale.

"I was like a kid in a candy shop back then," La Follette told us. "Flowers was on fire. It seemed like every single-vineyard Pinot Noir we released sold like Cracker Jacks. I'd visited at least fifty sites before I made that first drive down to the Sebastopol Hills, but nothing I'd seen held a candle the promise of the DuNahs' site."

DuNah Vineyard is set at the southernmost tip of the Russian River, facing the chilly breezes that whisk up valley from the Petaluma Gap. Perched at 600 feet in elevation, well above the Sonoma fog line, just a single ridge separates these slopes from the Pacific. After we made the drive up here last April, it wasn't difficult to understand why Greg La Follette had been seduced on the spot.

From the top of the property, you have a clear view of Mount Diablo some 55 miles to the southeast. The Geysers loom 35 miles to the north. The days are hot. The nights cold, with a summertime diurnal temperature shift of nearly 40 degrees. Farmed almost pathologically so as to promote the propagation of sweet, seedless berries, the DuNahs were barely squeezing out two tons per acre.

On that very first visit, La Follette told us, he saw DuNah Vineyard as a one-of-a-kind opportunity. "The vineyard is like a sun-drenched refrigerator. I'd never seen anything quite like it. In Carneros, small clusters weigh about 150 grams. At DuNah, not a single cluster weighed in at over 50! The sugars were high, but the acids were too. I bought everything Rick would sell me."

In 2007, with the market booming, Rick DuNah decided it was time to roll the dice. First, he asked the viticulture consultants to identify the finest Pinot Noir rows on the ranch. Then, he did one better. He called Greg La Follette and asked him if he'd consider making a few hundred cases of estate-grown Pinot Noir.

The extraordinary summer of 2007 was one of the most unforgettable in northern California history. Temperatures were moderate. The weather was dry with mild turquoise sky days and chilly, black, starry nights. The harvest was conducted over two weeks, the first block coming in on September 20th, the coolest section finally picked on October 4th. The clusters that eventually found their way to Greg La Follette's crusher were like nothing the brilliant Pinot Noir-maker had ever seen.

The 2007 DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate is marvelously rich and vibrant, after almost five years in bottle, still locked in a primary fruit suspended animation. Deep ruby to the rim with chiseled aromas of crushed black cherry and red raspberry, gently laced with sweet Herbes de Provence. The attack is lush and generous, infused with ripe black cherry preserves, still perfectly braced with cold night acidity.

Why is it that the last 1500 bottles of Greg La Follette's luscious 2007 are still sitting in the DuNahs' cellar? Why is a bottle released with much fanfare in late 2009 at $45/bottle being offered on WineAccess today at a fraction of the release price? Both are reasonable questions, but save your breath. We're not telling.



Tasting Notes

2007 DuNah Pinot Noir DuNah Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley
"Marvelously rich and vibrant, after almost five years in bottle, the 2007 DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir still seems locked in suspended animation. Deep ruby to the rim with chiseled aromas of crushed black cherry and red raspberry, gently laced with sweet Herbes de Provence. The attack is lush and generous, infused with ripe black cherry preserves, still perfectly braced with cold night persistence. Delicious now, but poised for greater things. Drink now-2018."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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