2016 Ernest Vineyards, Pinot Noir “The Wrangler” Grand Vent Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma Coast.
Tasted earlier this year, the 2016 Ernest Vineyards “The Wrangler” is an impressive bottling with loads of character and verve in the glass, it delivers a textural experience that is quite compelling and has beautiful detailing, this is only the second time I’ve had these wines, which have gained a real underground following since hitting the scene a few years ago, joining the likes of Anthill Farms in terms of quality and desirability. Richly flavored with classic Pinot fruit on the racy medium bodied palate the Ernest “The Wrangler” displays black cherry, raspberry, red apple skin, candied orange peel, plum and a touch of strawberry as well as delicate toasty oak, cinnamon, a touch of earthy spice and mineral tones. As you swirl this wine it gets deeper and more perfumed with rose petals, vanilla and creaminess coats the mouth. This stuff is also structured and vibrant with cool climate acidity in its veins that allows a clarity and focus to shine through, this will get your attention and makes for a very nice companion to food and a talking point at a leisurely meal. I can’t wait to try more from Ernest Vineyards wines in the coming vintages, I can only imagine how fabulous their 2018 and 2019 wines will be, it should be some awesome times ahead for this label.

The Ernest Vineyards is a micro negociant based in Sonoma and hand crafted from selected vineyard site at a custom crush facility with fanatic attention to quality and they specialize in terroir driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with this being one of my favorite in the lineup, as well as the two Cleary Ranch bottlings. With this Grand Vent Vineyard, aptly named by the way as it refers to the huge rush of cold ocean air the accelerates through the wind gap, acting like a cool air vent keeping these Pinot vines refreshed. This wind, according to the winery, dictates everything at this 15-acre vineyard in Sonoma County and this particular parcel that sits in the mouth of the Petaluma Gap, where a blend of unique terroir, cool climate, and consistent wind yields long hang times that allow flavors to mature slowly and steadily. The majority of the Grand Vent Vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir with clones of Pommard 4 and Dijon 113 being the main versions and give this wine its soulful expression. Oh, and yes, there was a man named Ernest, he was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a role model for his grandson, Todd Gottula, who founded this winery with his wife, Erin Brooks, back in 2012. In 2019 Todd and Erin brought on Joseph Ryan, who I tasted with at Slow Wine, who worked the 2018 harvest, as Ernest’s Head Winemaker. Though he wasn’t there for this 2016, he guided the 2017s to bottle, but had more influence on the 2018s, and will have his 2019s out in a year or so, and there is much excitement for the future here, be sure to check these wines out at your soonest chance.
($62 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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