Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 21, 2018

2016 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
Greg Brewer’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir cuvee sees only neutral barrels (well seasoned) of French oak and is a selection of the best lots of each of the estate farmed vineyards. Depending on the vintage, Brewer-Clifton goes all for whole cluster fermentation(s) for expressive and pure Pinot Noir(s), they farm with a focus of having ripe stems as well as evenly ripe grapes, allowing for harmony and balance in this offering. This 2016 really has a lot going for it with beautiful layers of juicy strawberry, racy red cherry, sweet plum and an array of delicate spices, nervy or thrilling stem energy and subtle floral tones. Working with the stems allows for wines that are more structured, it’s earthy underneath, though somewhat hidden by youth, and with a fine tension to match the forward Sta. Rita Hills fruit. When opening, this 2016 BC Pinot starts with an almost Grenache like character, like a lighter Chateauneuf, highlighting the whole cluster and fresh stems, with a fruit and spice burst, before settling into a fine Pinot Noir, it’s also a wine that gets deeper with food. This vintage is made up of the three main Brewer-Clifton estate farmed sites, that includes the 3D, Machado, and Hapgood vineyards. According to Brewer and team, the 3D Vineyard, expresses a primary emphasis on it’s predominantly sandy soils, it’s main focus is Chardonnay planted here, but there is a small block of Pinot Noir here planted to classic Swan and Pommard as well as some 667 and 828 clone(s) that really stands out, then there is their Machedo Vineyard, a 15 acre parcel on the Machado family land that is located adjacent to Clos Pepe and immediately behind the Kessler-Haak site contains a selection of Pommard, Merry Edwards, Mount Eden, and 459 clone(s) on rolling terrain with sand, clay and loam soils, which I suggest adds a sense intensity and power, and lastly, there is the Hapgood Vineyard, which is planted exclusively to the Merry Edwards clone, the mainly clay and loam soils gives a fuller mouth feel, a feeling of density and impact. It’s funny, because, I almost always love this cuvee more than the more acclaimed Brewer-Clifton single cru bottlings, in fact Steve Clifton, ex-founder/partner here and now La Voix (his own label) winemaker, always told me to never miss this bottling, as they (He and Greg) used to pick the most expressive barrels from their single vineyard lots to craft this one, counter to the usual practice of using the downgraded barrels for the basic Pinot or village wine! It was a piece of advice that stuck with me and so far I’ve never been let down, and this one does not disappoint, in fact it’s a sublime vintage and gets better with every sip, over the course of a full day being open it revealed wonderful character and charm, it’s red fruit core seriously reminds me of a ripe year Volnay! I can imagine many years of great drinking ahead, I might suggest putting a few bottles away too, best from 2010 to 2027.
($40 Est.) 92-94 Points, grapelive