Anthill Farms ‘Demuth Vineyard’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2006
California and Pinot Noir have a troubled relationship. A delicate, temperamental grape that requires struggle and challenge to produce anything of interest, there are very few places in the state for which it is suited. For a long time relegated to a minor level of interest, it has succumbed to the Culture Industry potency of a well-made movie whose success has become self-parody. That same tendency toward simulacrum now affects the grape that made the movie famous (not, given Burgundy’s indifference, the other way around). To be truthful, California Pinot needs to turn inward.
Truth without Trends
There are those producers who mean something because they ignore what’s going on around them. Ridge is the archetypical California example; but there are others: Mayacamas, Corison, Williams Selyem. Selyem has been making a more restrained form of California Pinot for a long time before the market for the variety exploded. As such it has served as key inspiration for many, including the three unlikely forces behind Anthill: Anthony Filiberti, David Low and Webster Marquez. Filiberti, Low and Marquez all worked at Williams Selyem at some point in their careers, learning both an approach to winemaking and how to farm and source the best fruit in the state. Those relationships built at Selyem have served them well as they developed their own small production project focusing on single vineyard, terroir driven, restrained Pinot Noirs.
Founded in 2005, Anthill’s reputation grew quickly, but quietly, and they now sell all their wine to a small mailing list. I would not be surprised if most of those customers are industry veterans snapping up some of the very few Pinot Noirs in California that have anything to say. For instance, at an event I attended a couple years ago Allen Meadows (Burghound) listed Anthill in a very small list of three California producers of Pinot Noir that he buys personally.
Pinot Noir – California Terroir
This is a powerfully aromatic wine – vibrant, pungent, intense. In fact, it was a cherry bomb insofar as those cherries were freshly pressed directly into the wine. That means a transparent wine, with high acid and complex aromatics. There is impressive structure here to couple with the delicacy, and while drinking very well with my Christmas dinner of honey-orange glazed five-spice roasted duck, this will clearly cellar well for several more years. I was very impressed and will buy Anthill Pinot Noirs whenever I see them.
This wine is made using Pommard and Wädenswil clones in the Demuth Vineyard in the Anderson Valley, which is considered one of the top Pinot sites in the Anderson Valley (and is now being converted to biodynamics). The Anderson Valley, which is situated in Mendocino County immediately north of Sonoma County, offers some of California’s cooler sites, being close enough to the coast for its climate to be moderated by cool marine air. The soils are alluvial and the area is home to many classic California Redwood forests. This wine suggests that Anthill has found something special and worth expressing in this lesser-known part of California. 150 cases made.
~$40 release; I paid $70 on the secondary market at a store in Healdsburg