2017 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Wendling Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
Drew’s 2017 Wendling Vineyard Pinot is bright and youthful in the glass with a deep garnet and ruby red hue that is heavenly inviting and the fresh detailed and transparent fruit is easy to love, making for a stunning wine that is great now, but will certainly gain with a few more years in bottle. As I and many others have mentioned in recent years, Jason Drew is crafting some of the state’s best wines, especially his small lot, ultra cool climate Pinot Noir(s) as well as his Syrah offerings, and if you’ve not tried his wines you are way behind the curve. The Wendling shows incredible varietal purity and is remarkably like a Morey-Saint-Denis or maybe a Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru with a beautiful sense of delicacy and lightness, while still having complexity and depth, this is sensational Pinot. Layered and satiny with tangy raspberry, black cherry, plum and pomegranate fruits leading the way on the medium bodied palate along with a nice vibrant cut of acidity, mineral tones, some briar, dried herbs and cinnamon like spices. There is some much to admire here, the deft and light handed winemaking that allows the terroir and grapes to do the talking and with zero new wood, this Wendling is naked and revealing from start to finish, there’s no flamboyance or pretense, or is it needed, just a flowing inner beauty and loads of engird from the partial whole bunch used here. At only 13.2% natural alcohol this vintage is very well balanced and lacy, though look for it to fill out over time and drink well for many years. With air the seductive aromatics comes online with this beguiling Pinot adding rose petals and deep floral elements to it’s crisp stony start, it gets more and more expressive once it awakens and or with matching cuisine.
The Wendling Vineyard holds the distinction of being, according to Drew, the most Northwesterly site in the whole Anderson Valley appellation. This site is in the deepest end of the valley, at about 450ft up, on pretty steep slope with good drainage, making for small yields on super quality and concentrated grapes. There are three soil types here as Drew notes, namely Ornbaun, Wolfey and Bearwallow complexes which are mostly weathered soft sandstone, quartz and or shales. These Mendocino hillside soils along with the cooler coastal temperatures help givie a darker profile and color making for intensely structured Pinot Noir, which Jason thinks is pure class. Drew’s parcels include an alleged DRC suitcase clone and a La Tache, along with some Dijon 115 and 667 clone selections, which all play a part in making this Pinot complex and very special indeed, in fact Drew compares the Wendling Vineyard to a “Grand Cru” site. In the Anderson Valley, Drew adds, Wendling truly stands apart with its distinctive textural character and pure mineral driven nature, of which I agree completely and in particular this vintage, it is a brilliant wine that saw a 100% native yeast and a 30% Whole Cluster fermentation, with two gentle gravity rackings and was aged 11 months in used wood, 50% in 1 year old French barrique and the other 50% in well seasoned neutral barrels. The winery suggests this Wendling has potential of a long enjoyment window with a “Drink 2020-2030” recommendation, again I wouldn’t argue with that at all, and I also must add the whole lineup is stellar at Drew, not just this one, but be sure to look for their Morning Dew Ranch, the Estate versions, Valenti Ranch and the Fog-Eater Pinots too.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive