2017 Alfaro Family Vineyards Small Lots, Pinot Noir, Heirloom Clones, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of the most exciting wines in Richard Alfaro’s impressive lineup of new releases is his Heirloom clone bottling of Corralitos estate grown Pinot Noir, and while I’m always thrilled by his astonishingly good Chardonnay(s) and absolutely love his dry and mineral driven Gruner Veltliner, Alfaro’s Pinots are lovely authentic, stylish and polished wines that deserve lots of praise. The Heirloom Clone Estate Pinot is 80% de-stemmed, 20% whole cluster and crafted from various blocks within the Lindsay Paige, Ryan Spencer, Alfaro Family and Mary Katherine vineyards all of which were planted and farmed on Alfaro’s Corralitos Estate using Heritage (Heirloom) clones including Calera, Mt. Eden, Pommard, Martini and Swan selections. Richard used indigenous yeasts and a five day cold soak and the must was gently fermented without punchdowns, instead the cap was kept wet with gravity flow rack and return, after finishing primary the wine was lightly pressed to French barrels where it went through natural malos and was raised on its lees for nine months. This unique bottling is lush, but with an dark earthy background, it was unfined and unfiltered and shows exceptional purity, vitality and drive in what was a stellar vintage for this part of the Santa Cruz Mountains and highlights the sandy loams and the cool marine influence here.
Coming in at 13.5% natural alcohol and with just hint of smoky sweet oak toastiness the 2017 Heirloom Clone is all about the fruit and its background complexities with a pretty garnet/ruby hue in the glass and with delicate floral perfume accented by hints of spice and a touch of tapenade before opening up to a layered medium bodied palate with satiny mouth feel. There is plenty to keep your attention and every sip begs for more with black cherry, plum, strawberry and cranberry fruits holding court, but also with blood organs, Earl Grey/rose hip tea, cinnamon, cola bean, vanilla and a faint sense of tarry rawness that actually adds a compelling almost old world charm to this ripe and textural Pinot Noir. The acidity is well integrated, but gives lots of personality and life here, this is a wine that can come across stoic in a sense until you have it with food, especially with well matched cuisine, it really takes off with the right pairing, duck, roast chicken, blackened salmon and or wild mushroom dishes, these kind of pairings let this wine fly, and that last glass is utterly awesome, drink this beauty over the next 5 to 10 years, probably at its best in 2024 and through 2027. I really love what Richard, and now son Ryan are doing at Alfaro Family Vineyards both with the estate wines and the Trout Gulch Vineyard, a source for some outstanding Chardonnay(s) not just for Alfaro, with Arnot-Roberts, Kutch and Ceritas, along with their mentioned Gruner and delicious Sparkling Pinot!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive