2019 Poe Wines, Pinot Nouveau, Van der Kamp Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County.
Made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Van der Kamp Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain is winemaker Samantha Sheehan’s ode to Beaujolais Nouveau and a celebration of the harvest with the first wine of the year. This is a wine I’ve been enjoying for the last few vintages and while it has changed a bit, it continues to be an intriguing and slightly funky version with earthy tones that make this Pinot Nouveau much less fruity than expected with a savory edge. The Van der Kamp family handpicks the grapes at night, and Poe gets the whole bunches to the winery just before sunrise from this old Pinot Noir site, one of the oldest in California, planted at about 1,400 feet up back in the early 1950s, above the historic Glenn Ellen village. Pinot Noir and Meunier from here are very expressive, coming from a patchwork of soils that includes some loam along with volcanic material and decomposed river bed, all of which adds to the complexity and give Sheehan’s wines a unique terroir influence, even in her Nouveau.
Sheehan employed whole clusters, that she put into a portable fermentor and sealed the lid for six weeks, noting that in absence of oxygen, the grapes undergo carbonic fermentation and malolactic at the same time, which she says results in a wine is delicate and fruity, with aromas of rose petals and strawberry. There is that and more and it shows a soft texture and roundness, it takes a length of time for the initial funk to blow off, but once it gets open it gains class and complexity with spice, juicy plum, candied cherry and mineral notes coming out. Poe Wines is really finding it’s voice these days with the last few vintages really turning on the charm, especially the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier based sparkling wines, these are lovely sparklers made in the grower fizz style, but Sheehan’s single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are also seriously good, in particular I suggest getting some of Samantha’s Manchester Ridge and Van der Kamp bottlings, they are truly special offerings. Those looking for California Nouveau should consider Poe’s along with those from Birichino, Cruse and Martha Stoumen to name just a few, and these 2019’s look very good, highlighting the potential of vintage.
($28 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive