2017 Littorai, Pinot Noir, The Haven Vineyard, Sonoma Coast -photo grapelive

2017 Littorai, Pinot Noir, The Haven Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.
Ted Lemon’s Littorai is one of the great wines (wineries) of California and while not an easy wine to find, like Aubert and Marcassin, these are worthy challenges in finding them and I highly recommend getting on their list if you are a Pinot Noir fan, but if you can find them I would snag what you grab, especially this gorgeous 2017 The Haven Vineyard, which is absolutely divine. The most compelling aspect of these Littorai wines is their subtlety and a sensation of lightness, but this grace does not diminish their depth and complexity at all, these are wines with that Pinot magic, which we all crave and admire. Lemon, who is a Burgundy veteran, having been the first American winemaker in the famous region at Roulot, Dujac, Roumier and Bruno Clair has been crafting fabulous American Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from cool climate sites on the true Sonoma Coast since 1993. Ted is committed to organic and biodynamic farming and along with his wife Heidi grows and prepares all of the biodynamic preps used in the vineyards on their farm and they even use sheep and other animals to maintain cover crops, these natural practices ensure everything is as sustainable as possible and add to the energies and quality of their grapes. Littorai’s are almost exclusively wines that are bottled from unique terroir driven single-vineyards from the most western of California’s vineyards, set on mainly marine sedimentary soils, in Sonoma and western Mendocino Counties. Littorai itself comes from the Latin word for “coasts” and Lemon has a gift with these Pacific Ocean influenced vineyards and this The Haven Vineyard, Lemon’s first estate vineyard, highlights his talent and the sense of place with beautiful detailing and fresh mineral tones with satiny layers of black cherry, plum, brambly raspberry and lingering strawberry fruits along with zesty blood orange, teas spices, crushed stones, a light cedary (wood) note as well as a touch of cranberry, baking spices and rose petals.

Littorai’s selection of vineyards are selected for the exacting attention to detail and methods to ensure each site is represented in all its own glory and of which individual personality shows through, Lemon is incredibly passion about small yields and even ripening to give complexity of flavors and lower natural alcohols, he is ever searching for transparency and what we all call balance, which all of the Littorai wines have. These wines are really made in the vineyard and Lemon is diligent in his picking and like top domaines in Burgundy, which has influenced his winemaking, the grape and cluster sorting happens in the vines at the harvest and again in the cellar where everything is intensely inspected for perfection, nothing gets through on the line here, only the best fruit is vinified. All of Lemon’s Pinots are cold soaked for a slow maceration and natural fermentation in a combination of stainless steel and wood fermenters with indigenous yeasts and then gently pressed to French oak for a lengthy elevage and allowed to go through natural malolactic, this aging has a soft touch when it comes to new barriques with each vintage and vineyard getting their own treatment, with about 20% new and at least 16 months on the lees. Also, in most years there is about 30% whole cluster employed, though this is also dependent on the vintage and this The Haven Vineyard has some exotic pomegranate and lifting stem inclusion showing adding a wonderful touch of tension, silken tannin and tangy herbs on the medium bodied and textural palate. This is unbelievably delicious Pinot Noir, and as a long time fan of Ted Lemon’s wines, both Littorai and his New Zealand Burn Cottage label from biodynamic vines in Central Otago, it was great to catch up with the new releases at the Slow Wine tasting recently, these are pure class, especially this one.
($100-150 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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