Anthill Farms “Tina Marie” Russian River Pinot Noir 2011

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photoAs SF Chronicle’s Jon Bonné puts it Russian River Pinot Noir is no longer a wine defined by its geography but is a “brand”. Many serious wine drinkers have now largely written off Russian River similarly to Napa Cabernet and Chardonnay. Of course, as with Napa, there are a few pockets of greatness in the Russian River. Part of the reason is the sheer size of the appellation, which covers about 170,000 acres. Much of this area is quite warm – in fact warmer than any other Pinot Noir producing region with up to 3,500 degree-days Fahrenheit in its hottest parts. But there are areas that are much cooler. In particular, the Green Valley where Anthill sources the fruit for this Pinot Noir, is quite cool. To provide contrast to the heart of the Russian River, Green Valley has 2,400 degree-days Fahrenheit and lies on the westernmost reaches of the AVA not too far from the Sonoma Coast.

Elegant California Pinot

Anthill is perhaps California’s top Pinot Noir specialist. It is one of the very few California wineries Allen Meadows personally cellars. The three founders (Anthony Filiberti, David Low, and Webster Marquez) learned their trade working at Williams Selyem. They now make wine from six vineyards with which they have contracts, each with its own bottling. Vinification is restrained, with a fairly low percentage of new oak used (under 50%, but varies depending on the vineyard and vintage).

Each site is quite different, reflecting the unique characteristics of its site. Bottlings range from Sonoma Coast to Anderson Valley, and the Russian River Valley. The wines don’t follow the stereotypes, with the Campbell Ranch bottling from the Sonoma Coast perhaps the most lush and richly aromatic.

The Tina Marie is one of my favourite bottlings of Pinot Noir in the U.S. Not only is it approachable, wonderfully balanced wine, but it marries the depth possible with California fruit to the elegance of the world’s great Pinot Noirs. Expect a flavour profile of cherries, chocolate, and spice with a deep mid-palate and long finish. Take time with this wine, it relishes the slow moments.

The 2012 is just as good, though somewhat riper in style.

Excellent+
$90 at Kits Wine

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