2018 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir “The Fog-Eater” Anderson Valley.
Still youthfully fresh and expressively floral the Drew 2018 The Fog-Eater Pinot is bursting with Italian Cherry, crushed raspberry, strawberry and spiced plum fruits, bramble, seeped rose petals, tangy herbs and delicate wood notes with a sense of electric energy and silky muscle(s), this is exceptional Pinot Noir again from one of California’s very best producers. The pretty dark ruby red colored 2018 The Fog-Eater by Drew is absolutely stunning now, but really looks to reward patience as well, air brings added depth and texture, this year is fantastic and Pinots lovers would be best served to stock up on as many as they can get. Winemaker Jason Drew selects several sites within the Anderson Valley and brings them together to make this gorgeous “The Fog-Eater” Pinot Noir with the aim as it has always been, his says, to layer and elevate complexity and showcase this very special northern California coastal valley growing region. The 2018 vintage crop yield was roughly two tons per acre for us and a relatively cool vintage, no extreme heat spikes and some extended hang time. We combined two deep end vineyards and one east ridge site along with one mid valley site to complete this special blend, with various elevations from about 100 feet to over 1200 feet above sea level. The 2018 saw the lions share of fruit coming from the true ‘deep end’ or Mendocino Ridge, closer to Drew’s home estate, and with the coolest Ocean influences. The Drew family is quite smitten with this 2018 vintage, as am I, these will age exceptionally well without a doubt. The Drew’s are calling it the best in over a decade, and I’m not going to argue with that, after tasting it and enjoying it in the glass. At just 13.3% natural alcohol, this very Burgundian style Pinot with go with many food options and Drew suggests pairing it with slow cooked pork shoulder and roasted butternut squash, though it can go with almost anything and I might go with blackened salmon. There are a fabulous array of California cool climate Pinots available, but Drew still is a step above and this might be one of the finest wines for the money you can find, I enthusiastically recommend this The Fog-Eater, along with Jason’s single vineyard collection and estate offerings.
The Fog-Eater, an appellation blend, from several sites from both bench and hillside locales along with outer western rim vineyards in the Anderson Valley which Drew uses to create, as he puts it, a classic expression of (the) Anderson Valley. The term Fog-eater, as Drew notes, is a Boontling term, from the local dialect in the area, that is used to describe those who live out on the coastal margins, as the Drew family does and the outliers in the fog. Very fitting for this Pacific Ocean influenced area near the Mendocino coast, which delivers its signature on these wines, giving balance, low alcohol and long hang-time concentration. As with most all of the Drew wines, Jason used 100% native yeasts during the fermentation on this lovely and authentic Pinot Noir and he employed close to 20% whole clusters in this 2018, as he says brings additional structure and spice into The Fog-Eater. The charm and form of this great wines is also due to the complex Franciscan Series soils, with vines on the alluvial, gravel, loam and ancient seafloor uplift elements, as well as the special clonal selections of Pinot Noir used here, that in this vintage includes the Dijon Clones, 115, 667, 828 as well as heritage Mt. Eden and Rochioli clones. As per normal, The Fog-Eater saw just 10% new French oak and was aged just about a year in the barrel with just two gentle rackings, highlighting, as I’ve mentioned many times now, Drew’s graceful touch and desire to present wines of elegance, substance and transparency. After half an hour, this 2018 just raised its game, making for an excellent and textural wine that seduces the senses and the length, which is already impressive, lingers on and on with echos of the kirsch led fruits, adding cinnamon, pomegranate, an earthy sultry note, mineral and briar. Going on, as to why these wines move me, they have that great play between tension and textural pleasure, they are authentic, not flashy and they represent California with sublime grace and honesty. These Drew 2018 have a taut structure, sharp clarity of detail and alluring flavors, making them ideal wines to save a little longer, interestingly the younger 2019s are more plush, even though similar in numbers, and seem more ready to dig into, though I am quite sure they too will age wonderfully, these are two vintages you don’t want to miss, especially from Drew.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive