2014 Albatross Ridge, Pinot Noir “First Flight” Estate, Carmel Valley, Monterey County.
The late release of a the Albatross Ridge First Flight, from Garrett Bowlus, is a refined and extremely delicious on the creamy medium weight palate, this under 70 case cuvee is only going to be produced in exceptional vintage, making it one of the most sought after and limited Carmel Valley wines. This First Flight comes from the most extremely rocky parcel on the Albatross Ridge Estate, which is just 7 miles from the Pacific at about 1,200 feet up, with vines strewn with large Carmel Stone (chalk rocks) and is windswept making it wildly cool and difficult to get much in the way of yields, but this stress adds to the character and intensity of flavors here, which clearly has paid off in their 2014 wines, all of which are spectacular, especially this one and the Estate Reserve. The First Flight comes from rows of Pommard and 828 Clone and is crafted in traditional old school Burgundy fashion (native ferments) with about 50% new French barrique, it was unified and unfiltered with special care to bleed it off the lees to only have the clearest and purest essences go into bottles, this commitment to detail has really led to a brilliant wine that shows amazing delicacy and grace with ripe tannins, while still allowing the true energy (firm acid structure) and remoteness of site to shine through. The first impression of this new wine is one of remarkable lightness of form and extra lingering aftertaste with a beautiful ruby/garnet hue in there glass with subtle briar and baking spices lifting from the glass with round flavors of racy red cherry, raspberry, plum and pomegranate fruits as well as balanced sweet/smoky oak, minty herb, faint and alluring earthiness along with Turkish fig, flinty mineral and chalky elements. The finish is impressive with wonderful length, hanging on with creamy decadence and exotic liquid rose and a mix of currant paste and strawberry, this low alcohol cool climate Pinot Noir has plenty to admire and the mouth feel is excellent, it should gain more of an extrovert personality over time and it has potential to really really sexy, I hope to try it again in 5 years to see where it goes, I must say I still love the Estate Reserve a touch better at this stage, but it’s a close run thing, best from 2020 to 2026.
($115 Est.) 93-95 Points, grapelive

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