Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Russian River Pinot Noir 2005 from Kosta Browne

It all started in 1997, when Dan Kosta and Michael Browne decided to leave their jobs as waiters at restaurant John Ash & Co in Santa Rosa, to make fine wines of Pinot Noir. During a few months, they saved all the tip money and bought half a ton of Pinot Noir and some barrels. The wine turned out to be quite good, and after some years of trials and errors, and more vineyard sites (on contract, they don't own any vineyards) and tons of grapes added to their business, Kosta Browne had become a well known and respected winery with some great but hard to find wines, especially some vineyard designated wines from Russian River and Santa Lucia Highlands.
I’ve been to the cellar a few times, and it’s really a true exciting experience to taste barrel samples of different clones of Pinot Noir, wines made with or without stems, kept in old or new barrels, and of course from different vineyard sites and appellations. Tasting in their cool cellar, the high alcohol and the ripe fruit is not showing as much as is does from bottle, neither does the oak. These wines are big, for sure not burgundian like. However, from a philosophical point of view, they’re like the Californian counterparts of Lucien le Moine of Burgundy, wines that are much riper, more lush and intensely fruit driven than the wines from their neighbors. They also show higher alcohol (14.5 to 15.0 percent), silky tannins and upfront oak flavors. That’s the way they’re made. Like it or not.
So, do I like them? Yes and no. The range is wide, the wines are different, but overall the quality is high. I’ve tried many of the wines from barrel and young from the bottle, and I’ve always noticed that they need air and some bottle age.
Production is now up at 11 000 cases per year and the wine list consist of a dozen of Pinot Noir wines, and also some wines of Syrah.

2005 Russian River Pinot Noir / 86 p
This wine is made of Pinot Noir from a various range of vineyards in Russian River, predominately from the northern part of the appellation where the climate is a bit warmer. Some of the base wines in this blend are selections from Koplen Vineyard, Amber Ridge Vineyard and Cohn Vineyard, sources of great wines for singe vineyard bottling. Grapes are normally harvested at high 25-27 Brix (hence the riper style and higher alcohol), and after five days of cold soak, the juice is fermented in small open top fermenters (some of them of oak) with regular pigeage, and thereafter the wines are stored in small French oak casks, 30 percent new, for 16-17 months.
Tasted two years ago, this wine was still very young and a bit over the top with its ripe fruit, and I would never have used the description “elegant”. Today I might do that! Still it is fruit forward with loads of sweet raspberries and almost cooked strawberries, but there are also more refined notes of lighter red berries to be found. I like the nose of this wine, and now with some bottle age, notes of chocolate and ancho chile (a secondary mature aroma which I think is complex, although not one you should find in a young Pinot Noir wine like this) have become parts of the flavor profile. Some earthy notes join the slightly sweet and fruity palate, tannins are silky and acidy good but not fresh, and the aftertaste lingers for a minute.
I would serve this wine at 15-16 degrees in a Bordeaux shaped glass rather than the typical Burgundy glass (that’s a bit too big for a ripe and intense wine like this).
Drink it 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment