2022 Swirling Hawk Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Monterey County.
The warmly ripe and textural 2022 Estate Pinot Noir, from David Arizini’s Swirling Hawk Vineyards and winemaker Frank Melicia (Parsonage and Silvestri) shows off sweet florals, baking spices, macerated red berries on the nose with plush layering of black cherry, plum, raspberry, Mission fig and candied orange fruits, all rich and pleasing in the mouth. The vintage, which saw some extra warm days, makes for a distinctive fruit forward palate, but it is nicely focused, with accents of vanilla, rose oil, sassafras, chalky mineral, framboise, wild sage and subtle truffle that add to the depth, persistence and complexity in this satiny mouth coating Pinot Noir. This tiny estate has just about two acres of steep south facing vines in two parcels, one older block that saw mostly Dijon clones with the usual 777 and 667 and a new block recently planted to Swan and Pommard clone 4 selections. The vineyard is set on very chalky soils with clay loams and California shales with fossilized Carmel stones that help, along with the cool coastal climate, transmit real terroir character here. I recently got turned on to this exciting new label by Frank Melicia, who as mentioned farms and makes the wine here, and who’s wines I’ve long admired, be it from Silvestri, where I love the Barbera, or Parsonage, known for some of Carmel Valley’s deepest reds, including Syrah, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which have long been favorites of mine, so I’m excited to se the evolution here. Frank started here with this 2022 vintage and says there’s great potential and thinks his 2023 will turn some heads when it gets to bottle this fall, and I cannot wait to try that one as well, especially as the vintage looks to be legendary for the region and the state!

David and Marieke Arizini founded the Swirling Hawk property and vineyard just a few vintages ago, it is an all new small boutique winery located in the heart of Carmel Valley, just off the Los Laureles Grade and close to the famous Diamond-T Vineyard, and not far from Albatross Ridge and Pelio, in what has become an area known as the Carmel Coast. It’s an area a few miles from the original Carmel Valley AVA and sees much more cooling influence, it is also trying to become an AVA sub region of its own, and different from the deeper end of Carmel Valley in Monterey County. Perched on the hills overlooking Carmel Valley, Swirling Hawk Vineyards, only 7 or 8 miles from Carmel Bay and cool Pacific, captures the elements of nature in every vine. Each day, as inland heat rises, hawks swirl on the thermals that help ripen our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Ocean fog cools the vines at night enhancing their quality. Clay-loam soil and deep shale beds, distinctive to the region, add complexity to our signature style. The long growing season allows for intense flavors and fruit density and we bring in the ripe and healthy grapes into the mid of October and they are careful sorted in the vineyard and on the sorting table. The clusters are full de-stemmed and gently crushed and put into temperature controlled open top stainless fermenters for a two week maceration and primary fermentation using selected cultures. After a small basket pressing the wine is racked to French oak barrels, where it finished malolactic fermentation with about 40% new wood, and rest being neutral wood, and it saw about 10 months of elevage, on the fine lees, without racking, before bottling. Only around ten barrels were made and the wines are only available to their mailing list, which I recommend checking out, eventually there looks to be an estate Chardonnay, this Pinot and a special barrel selection Reserve Pinot as well.
($60 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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