2010 William Knuttel Pinot Noir Paradise Vineyard Sonoma Coast
 
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Winemaker William Knuttel A Pinot Noir Steal on Sonoma Coast

Given today's overheated Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir market, it's hard to recall the challenges growers were having as the 2010 harvest approached. After the small 2008 harvest was followed by a more copious 2009 campaign, cellars from the Petaluma Gap to the northern reaches of Russian River were stuffed to the gills. Big-ticket, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that had been selling like hotcakes were stuck in distribution. Retailers were shelling up like tortoises. Wholesalers weren't responding to supplier voicemail messages.

But, as has always been the case in such economic times, one man's challenge is another's opportunity — explaining why winemaker Bill Knuttel was able to all but STEAL 6 tons of small-berry Pinot Noir off Paradise Vineyard, making for one of the more staggering single-vineyard bargains of the vintage.

Paradise Vineyard sits in the southern edge of the Sonoma Coast appellation, overlooking the northern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Farmed by blue-chip viticulturist Tom Larson, the vineyard enjoys one of the longest growing seasons on the coast, made all the longer by a 2010 growing season that would go down as one of the coolest in recent coastal history.

"Everyone knew the crop was small in 2010," Knuttel told us last week at Ralph's Bistro in Healdsburg. "But while it's hard to believe now, after pretty strong yields in 2009, and with the economy upside down, wineries were backing out of contracts left and right. When I got the call telling me there was not only an opening at Paradise Vineyard, but with harvest approaching, the asking price was down 40 percent, I dove in — and never looked back."

Pinot Noir is a cool-climate variety, wanting nothing more than cool days and nights, a long, drawn-out maturation cycle and plenty of hang-time. At midnight in the first week of October, pickers took to Paradise Vineyard sporting miner's lamps, snipping tiny-berry Pinot Noir clusters. Knuttel, per the winemaking protocol he perfected after years at the helm at Saintsbury, first de-stemmed the fruit before a five-day cold soak. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to small François Frères cooperage, 50 percent of which was new. Just 16 barrels were made, a blend of Dijon clones 667, 777 and 115.

The 2010 William Knuttel Pinot Noir Paradise Vineyard is brilliant, deep ruby to the edge, infused with luscious aromas of raspberry, pomegranate, plum and new-wood vanilla. Rich, plush and marvelously polished on the attack, packed with a compact mix of crushed red and black fruits, the finish is textbook cool-vintage Sonoma Coast — long, vibrant and persistent. Drink now for its primary fruit juiciness or still better, lay this gorgeous single-vineyard Pinot Noir down for another 3-5 years.



Tasting Notes

2010 William Knuttel Pinot Noir Paradise Vineyard Sonoma Coast
"The 2010 William Knuttel Pinot Noir Paradise Vineyard is brilliant, deep ruby to the edge, infused with luscious aromas of raspberry, pomegranate, plum and new-wood vanilla. Rich, plush and marvelously polished on the attack, packed with a compact mix of crushed red and black fruits, the finish is textbook cool-vintage Sonoma Coast — long, vibrant and persistent. Drink now for its primary fruit juiciness or still better, lay this gorgeous single-vineyard Pinot Noir down for another 3-5 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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