2016 Waits – Mast Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge.
Waits – Mast Family Cellars was founded by Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits back in 2005 with this couple making their first barrel of their own Pinot in 2007 with a passion for marine influenced wines like Littorai, Cobb, Drew, Hirsch and Peay Vineyards. According to Brian, before they started making wine we were passionate wine consumers taking many weekend getaways were spent exploring wineries across California, plus a few special trips to France, Switzerland and even New Zealand. All of this cruising around made them hyper focused on the Anderson Valley and I became a big fan after first trying their Londer Vineyard 2010 and later the fantastic Deer Meadows Vineyard, which is farmed by Richard Savoy, of Savoy Vineyard fame, and a high elevation organic site above Boonville. Now Waits – Mast have a talented Shalini Sekhar, Winemaker, who studied Enology and Viticulture at Fresno State University, and applied her skills at Williams-Selyem Winery, Copain Custom Crush (now Punchdown Cellars), and Bluxome Street winery, and now besides Waits – Mast she crafts the Neely Wines (of Varner fame) from the Santa Cruz Mountains, specializing on Pinot Noir from these cool coastal mountain sites. The 2016 Mariah has lush layering with refined tannin and nice silky elegance on the palate with black cherry, raspberry, plum and tart currant/cranberry fruits along with subtle smoky/sweet oak toast, cinnamon, rose petal, mineral and a hint of mocha. This wine flows and opens smooth with a rich sense of detail and finesse, but still has plenty of energy and vitality.
The beautiful and expressive 2016 Mariah Pinot comes from a Pinot Noir block that Brian and Jennifer source comes from two different clones, Dijon 667 and Pommard, planted to older root-stock from vines that were originally put in the ground in the 1970s set on a combination of Hugo and Josephine loams over a well drained sandstone and fractured shales. This region and in particular this area has produced some of California’s best Pinot Noirs in recent years and there is great expectations on these wines, which this wine lives up to. As noted in my reviews of Drew, who is not far from Mariah, this part of the Anderson Valley is on the very western side within 10 miles of the ocean and up above 1200 feet, making for a cool, breezy and fog influenced long growing season that makes for stunning Pinot Noirs. The wines from Waits – Mast are handcrafted in San Francisco in very small lots and offer exceptional value, especially these 2016 vintage offerings, which was an absolutely awesome year in the Anderson Valley, with this Mariah and their Nash Mill Vineyard bottlings being stand outs! This Mariah saw lots of whole cluster and saw a cool maceration, hand punch downs and pump overs to enhance the aromatics, vibrancy of flavors, structure and allow texture to form before a slow gentle pressing to just four French oak barrels for another year of elevage. With only 94 cases of this unfixed and unfiltered Mariah Vineyard Pinot Noir, that finished at a graceful, but ripe 13.5% natural alcohol, it would be best to get on it pretty quickly and also I recommend capturing their 2012s and in particular the 2014s if you see them, as well as joining the Waits – Mast mailing list.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive