2018 Holman Ranch, Pinot Noir, Three Brothers, Carmel Valley AVA, Monterey County.
The Holman Ranch Estate Vineyard and Winery situated on the picturesque southern facing hillsides just east of the Carmel Valley Village is mainly known as a wedding venue, but their small parcels of vines are showing real potential and the 2018 Pinots, made by the father and son team of Greg Vita, a long time local winemaker who’s roots go back to the famous Spring Mountain Winery in Napa Valley, and the rising talent Chris Vita, who has brought some excitement these wines. This Three Brothers Pinot Noir is deep in color and beautifully aromatic with a bright array of red berries, mineral tones, floral dimension and subtle wood use, plus the added complexity of partial whole cluster fermentation. The texture is lush and satiny, but there’s personality and plenty of lively energy, with black cherry at the core and background layers of plum, sandalwood, currant, rose petals, delicate spices and a hint of sage tea. It’s a touch choice between the latest wines here, which are mainly just different percentages of the estate selection of clones, with this one a touch heavier in Dijon clones, though with some Calera and Pommard featuring as well, all of which, makes for a serious and delicious wine.
Having known Greg Vita for many years now, I was told by him, just after he was hired to consult with Holman Ranch, that he believed there was tremendous promise at this beautiful hillside vineyard and I’ve seen a real progression from the 2011 and 2012 vintages to now, and some of that I think has been the growth of Chris Vita’s influence here as well as the maturing of the vines here. Chris convinced his dad to go with more whole cluster in recent vintages and these 2018s, are for me, big steps up in quality and they show a less austere nature with expressive flavors and just the right amount of subtle crunch from the whole bunches and stems. The fermentation(s) are otherwise traditional with the grapes allowed to start fermenting with vineyard yeasts before being inoculated during the cool maceration period with a selected culture finishing primary ferments before the wines are free run racked to French oak where the Pinots age about a year in the barrel, after which they carefully blended into each cuvée. I was really impressed tasting through the latest Holman Ranch wines, with this one, the Heather’s Hill and their Kelly’s Press all showing fabulously well, a big thank you to Holman’s Giuseppi Cossu for guiding me through these well made small lot wines. Only a few barrels of each are made and they see mostly used wood, but enough new to add some polish and they are flexible and confident food wines as well, I recommend checking them all out.
($53 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive