2010 Robert Stemmler Winery Pinot Noir Carneros
 
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Anne Moller-Racke and Donum Estate The Queen of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Anne Moller-Racke is on a roll. If you're a coastal Pinot Noir collector with a penchant for dropping 4 figures on cases of Kistler, Morlet and Peter Michael, you've likely already done the same at Donum Estate. In three straight vintages, Wine Spectator dropped 96pt bombs on the charming German-born winegrower's "East Slope" and "West Slope." From the most precious 70 acres in Carneros, Moller-Racke's full throttle, red raspberry Pinots set off a blue chip buying frenzy the likes of which Carneros has never seen.

But almost as stunning, during that same three-year span, were Anne's Robert Stemmler Pinot Noirs, each cut of the same Donum Estate vineyard cloth. "I think of East Slope and West Slope as my Grand Crus. The Robert Stemmler Pinots are my villages," Anne told us. The metaphor couldn't be more appropriate.

The Donum Estate Pinots are big, rich and brooding, full of dense red fruit preserves in their youth, but said to really sparkle a half dozen years after bottling. Up until this release, the Robert Stemmler Pinot Noirs have made no such pretension. From 2007-2009, the villages Pinots traded raspberries for Bing cherry, weight and density for quaffable lightheartedness.

But in the miracle harvest of 2010, Moller-Racke's Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir took a glorious page from her Donum Estate playbook. Here's why.

In one of the coolest, most stretched out growing seasons in Carneros history, sugars finally spiked in the last weeks before harvest. Less conscientious growers would struggle. But the guys over at Saintsbury shined. As to Moller-Racke, the Queen of Carneros Pinot Noir turned out the finest Pinot Noir lineup of her 96pt career.

If you've been drinking Anne's 'villages' in years past, and you're again looking for a simple, refreshing bowlful of Bing cherry -- absent the intellectual sophistication of Donum Estate -- stop reading NOW. But instead, if you're in the mood for an under-$25 Pinot Noir that boasts rich, brooding, red raspberry intensity, refined density and weight, all buttressed by mouthwatering Sonoma Coast acidity, get ready. This 2010 is the outlier -- and a stunning bargain treat.

"The colder vintages are our best." Anne told us. "2004 was warm. We harvested in the third week of September. Sugars were high. The berries were sweet. But we didn't get the phenolic complexity that comes from longer hang time." She continued. "In 2010, the vines struggled for much of the summer, and we waited until the second week of October to pick. Sugars were fine, but not overplayed. More importantly, the acids were excellent. Writers called it 'The Miracle Harvest' -- and they were right."

The 2010 Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir is deep ruby in color. Explosively aromatic, infused with raspberry preserves, a hint of black cherry, laced with sweet herbes-de-Provence. Rich, dense and juicy on the attack -- yet still marvelously restrained -- slowly peeling away fine layers of primary fruit, unwinding to its exquisite small berry core.



Tasting Notes

2010 Robert Stemmler Winery Pinot Noir Carneros
"Deep ruby in color. Explosively aromatic, infused with raspberry preserves, a hint of black cherry, laced with sweet Herbes-de-Provence. Rich, dense and juicy on the attack -- yet still marvelously restrained -- slowly peeling away fine layers of primary fruit juiciness, unwinding, finally showing off its exquisite small berry core. Excellent persistence on the finish with Anne Moller-Racke's signature backbone. Drink now or age 3-4 years in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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