2021 Mansfield-Dunne, Pinot Noir, Cortada Alta Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
One of the sleepers at the Santa Lucia Highlands Sun, Wind & Wine event this May was the wines by Mansfield-Dunne winery, all of which impressed, but especially their Cortada Alta Pinot Noir from the 2021 vintage, with its deep inviting garnet/ruby hue in the glass and silky texture on the ripe medium bodied palate that delivers a pretty range of red fruit flavors, subtle wood notes and fresh energy. I have been following this small family winery for a few years now, really liking the 2018 and 2019 wines, but this 2021 Cortada Alta Pinot is a step up in all areas with beautiful lush black cherry, plum, bramble berry and Mission fig fruits, along with hints of earth, briar, rose petals, cola and shaved vanilla. The youthful nature and vivid acidity keeps the bold richness focused and teases its potential, which I would guess as being a wine that will reward some extra aging, somewhere down the road, maybe 3 to 5 years, this pleasing bottling will get even better. I think I prefer the high elevation Cortada Alta Pinots in the latest collection of Mansfield-Dunne, there seems a bit more elegance and structure versus the Peterson Vineyard, which offers a more satiny and plush profile in the wines I most recently tasted, though I still highly recommend them all, and the lush and vinous Chardonnays here are not to be overlooked either, offering up quality almost on par with the Pinots.

The Mansfield-Dunne winery, as noted here in my prior reviews, was started back in 2011 and has quietly gained in popularity and is producing a solid selection of wines from their two Santa Lucia Highlands estate vineyards, farmed organically, the lower Peterson Vineyard and the Cortada Alta Vineyard, planted in 2014, which is one of the most distinct in the region. The story of Cortada Alta, the highest vineyard site in the Santa Lucia Highlands, starts in 2009 with the Peterson family finding 300 acres of rugged scrub land that was a dream come true and this property would become one of the most unique in the region with plantings of Calera, Pommard, Swan, 2A, 23, 667, 828, and 943 Pinot clones. Again as mentioned before, Cortada Alta has some pretty steep slopes, with some at a 44% grade, at close to or above 1,500 feet up, and it’s set on the SLH’s sandy loams with clay and decomposed granite. This site gets a constant cold blast of sea air and loads of sun, making for intense conditions and lots of fruit density, while still enjoying natural acidity, making for balanced and compelling wines, such as this one. The winemaking here, led by Ed Kurtzman, ex-Roar and Freeman, is all about taming this wild site and allowing its true personality to shine through, so Mansfield-Dunne carefully sorted the Pinot grapes and gently cold macerated them in small bins and employed daily hand punch-downs before maturing the wine in French oak for 14 months, using about 60% new wood to tame the slightly more tannic mountain fruit. This is a winery ready to break through and these delicious 2021s are proof and should not be missed.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

By admin