2013 Littorai, Pinot Noir, Mays Canyon, Sonoma Coast.
Ted Lemon, who is humbly and with great precision, is continuing to make some of California’s most beautiful Pinot Noir wines and his 2013 Mays Canyon is really coming into its own with gorgeous layering and striking detail, from an irregular and less hyped vintage, it is blossoming into a swan so to speak with a weightlessness, depth and lingering flavors that will remind many of some of Burgundies finest Premier Crus, outstanding stuff. Lemon sometimes gets left out of the current conversations about the top winemakers, but that seems absolutely insane when you taste one of his wines, and I was gently reminded of that myself last night as I sipped on this glorious Pinot Noir with its graceful medium bodied palate that unfolds with regal dimension, showing a fine array of black cherry, plum, cranberry and strawberry fruits along with a deep sense of dark flower perfume, delicate tea notes, sassafras spice, a touch of woodsy, earthy and sweet golden Chanterelles and blood orange. The texture, subtly and length in this 2013 Mays Canyon Pinot are of otherworldly quality and silken pleasure, and I can only imagine with mouth watering anticipation what stellar vintages like 2018 and 2019 will be like in 10 to 20 years, and I’m glad I got to see this wine start to show its true nature and potential, it is certainly in a fabulous place right now, it is not a showy or flamboyant wine, but of a wine of near perfection in a state of quiet poise and seductive charm.
The Mays Canyon site, as Lemon notes, is home to the Porter-Bass Estate, farmed to strict organic methods with biodynamic principles and set on coastal gravelly loam that is underpinned by sandstone and broken shales, its located on the western edge of the Russian River Appellation, near Guerneville, bordered by beautiful redwoods and just eight miles from the Pacific Coast. This Pinot plot used by Littorai was planted, or replanted back in 1999, and has a collection of clonal material that includes many unique proprietary clones along with sections of the Swan clone and 777 with vines to struggle to produce a meaningful crop, in fact this vineyard only averages about 1.6 tons per acre, ensuring concentration and a wealth of fruit intensity along with pure cool climate vitality and wonderful mineral tones. Littorai was founded in 1993 by Ted and his wife Heidi, after what could be called an already storied career with Lemon being the first ever American to be named a vineyard manager in Burgundy where he world at the legendary Guy Roulot in Meursault, plus stints at some of the best domaines in Burgundy, making wines at Domaine Georges Roumier, Domaine Bruno Clair, Domaine Parent, Domaine De Villaine, Domaine Delorme and the famous Domaine Dujac. Lemon, like Doug Tunnell at Brick House in Oregon, was a pioneer in American biodynamics and focusing on ultra cool climate vineyards on the west Sonoma coast as well as in the Anderson Valley, he is a firm believer in that the wine is made in the vineyard and that terroir is the wines soul. The cellar work is natural, gentle and promotes delicacy and elegance, which this ruby red and transparent 2013 Mays Canyon shows in spades, these are wines that should never be missed!
($99 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive