Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seductive Pinot Noir from Flying Goat Cellars

Flying Goat is a one man show winery in Santa Rita Hills. A very good winemaker with almost 30 years of experience, good relations with grape growers throughout the valley, a small but functional winery and enough customers to sell his tiny production is what it is. The man behind is Norman Yost, who started to work as a cellar rat at Monticello Cellars in Napa Valley 1982. There he learned how to make elegant food friendly wines, a philosophy he has kept over the years. Not surprisingly, his pinots are built on aromas, texture and finesse, and they belong together with the wines from Brewer-Clifton and Clos Pepe to the premium wines of Santa Rita Hills.
All pinots are made in pretty much the same way, with a strict selection of the grapes before they are destemmed but not crushed. The juice is then, after three to four days of cold soak, fermented in small open top fermenters with two pigeage per day during two weeks. Then the wines are transferred into small French oak barrels, most of them from Rousseau and François Frères, for malolactic fermentation and 12-16 months of ageing.
Just 2 500 cases are made every vintage, 80 percent of which is pinot wines.

2006 Pinot Noir Rancho Santa Rosa / 93-94 p
The Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard is located in the eastern end of Santa Rita Hills, where the climate is slightly more temperate than in the very cool and windy western part. It’s a 97.20 hectare vineyard owned by Foley (where Norm Yost once was the winemaker) that consist of 59 different blocks planted with a wide range of varieties and clones of them. The grapes for this wine comes from Block 16, which is planted with the Dijon 667 clone of Pinot Noir. After fermentation, the wine spent nine months in French oak barrels, of which 35 percent were new. Now, after a few years in bottle, the wine still is dominated by a very intense, ripe but cool scented red fruit profile with loads of sweet and sour cherries, raspberries as well as rose petals, and just a minuscule note of the oak. It’s just lovely, and it actually reminds me of the very fine wines from the top producer Domaine Sylvain Cathiard of Vosne-Romanée, at least on the nose. On the palate, the wine is for sure Californian, with its lovely silky texture of sweet ripe red fruit, nicely balanced with a vibrant acidity and again just a small touch of the wood. After around 30 minutes in a decanter, the finish starts to taste a little bit drier, which makes the wine even more complex. I have a gut feel that this wine may evolve into a beauty over the years, and perhaps my prediction on drinking window below isn’t too good.
Drink it 2010-2016.

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