2018 Inspiration Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Branley Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.
The Branley Vineyard Pinot by Jon Phillips and winemaker Dylan Sheldon is a gem in the glass with luxurious layers of silky ripe fruit and a beautiful ruby garnet hue this is incredibly inviting stuff that highlights the sense of place and vintage exceptional well, showing black cherry, light toastiness, rose petals, sassafras and delicate spices. Located near Santa Rosa in a cooler zone, the Branley Vineyard first came into the limelight when Chris Donatiello made some tasty Chards from this site and the location and soils lends themselves to growing delicious Pinot Noir with a mix of Franciscan complex based soils with some alluvial material over weathered sandstones and ancient river bed gravels. The area sucks the cold air from the Pacific Ocean inland and gets a good dose of fog to retain fresh acidity and allow a deep set of flavors and texture, as this 2018 shows extremely well, appealing to those that enjoy the regions classics like Joseph Swan, Mary Edwards, Martinelli and Gary Farrell. The new labels at this winery are another big step up with a local tattoo artistic doing the design work, with this Inspiration Vineyards Branley Pinot label being one of the nicest in the lineup, they add a more polished look to go with the quality in the bottle.
This 2018 really excels with air and time adding a depth of flavor that is quite impressive with raspberry, plum and tangy currants joining the core cherry fruit along with cinnamon, herbal tea spices, a hint of sweet smokiness and vanilla as this Pinot unfolds in the mouth making it great with a range of foods from hard cheeses to blackened salmon. There’s a richness that is compelling, but a lively zest that provides a balance and an overall delicacy that excites the taste buds, the Branley Pinot was excellent in fact with my chicken Cesar salad wrap, as the heatwave has made it difficult to enjoy heavy foods, though I would love to have it with duck and or wild mushroom dishes, where this wine would really shine and due it more justice. This is one of the best releases from Inspiration Vineyards I’ve tried and the rise in quality and stylistic charm continues at this small label, the focus on value and food friendly offerings remains their mission, but the wines are showing more elegance, complexity and authentic transparency, especially these ‘18s. There’s a lot to admire here and it is a good way to enjoy #internationalpinotnoirday and it’s a good time to discover Inspiration Vineyards. As a long time fan of Dylan’s wines, which tend to be crafted with native yeasts and less oak presence, I am very happy with his influence on these new offerings, these small lot wines are tasty and deliver the promise of the vintage well, and don’t miss their Grenache either!
($39 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive