2019 Waxwing Wines, Pinot Noir, Deerheart Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
I had been thinking about the Santa Cruz Mountains wine region and just heard about the passing of one of the region’s legends, David Bruce, who I was lucky to have done tastings with with in the early 2000s, so I thought it would be a good tribute to him to open this Waxwing Deerheart Vineyard Pinot and it was a great way to remember him and look toward the future he helped create. Scott Sisemore, winemaker at Waxwing Wines, who has been more aligned with the Santa Cruz Mountains in recent vintages with this Deerheart Vineyard, a vineyard located just 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean and the Lester Vineyard in Corralitos, also home to Richard Alfaro’s Alfaro Family Estate and Jim Schultze’s Windy Oaks Estate. There are fabulous and unique Pinot terroirs scattered throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Deerheart looks like an exciting site, especially after tasting the latest releases from here by Scott, with this 2019 showing a remarkably deep color and richness on the palate with an opulent array of dark fruits and a lush silky mouth feel, it almost reminds me of a Merry Edwards, Martinelli, Lymar and or a Rochioli Russian River Pinot with the black cherry, plum and raspberry core, along with delicate baking spices, sweet tea, mocha/cola and rose petal florals. This is a bigger framed Pinot, more seductively curvy in style than many would expect, but not without poise and or grace with a soft sense of acidity and as it has potential, with its substance, to age well.

Sisemore started working with Bob and JoAnn Larsons’ Deerheart Vineyard in 2017, and even though it is a young vineyard, planted 2013, it made a huge impression on him and the wines have been excellent. The Deerheart Vineyard is on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains set between San Gregorio Beach and the La Honda Open Space Preserve where it gets cool breezes and lots of afternoon sunshine that have given these wines their distinct ripeness and supple body. The vines are a combination of clonal material with mainly Dijon selections, these include four blocks with 667, 777, 828, 943 and 459, along with a little of the old Swiss clone, Wadenswil (also known as clone 2A) that allows complexity and diversity of flavors. In an effort to highlight the luxurious nature in this Pinot Noir, Sisemore used 100% de-stemmed fruit, a week long cold soak and fermented this Deerheart Pinot Noir in a wood open top (upright) fermenter, with two or three daily punch-downs and pump-overs before aging it for 10 months in around 40% new French oak that adds a a toasty/sweet element and the creamy finish. Waxwing released this 2019 Deerheart Pinot Noir just before the 2020 Holiday season, with only about 100 cases available, so it should go quickly. Interestingly Sisemore made this version at FEL winery in Sonoma, where they have a fantastic cellar and are well known for their touch with Pinot Noir and offered Scoot a place to give this one some extra love and care. The Waxwing lineup always includes a few new things and in the last few years I have found a lot to like here at this micro winery, with this wine being one of the stars in Scott’s excellent set of small lot wines.
($55 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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