2017 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
The 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir from Greg Brewer at Brewer-Clifton is wonderfully expressive and has a beautiful play between ripe fruit and savory tones, it is more complex than one would expect from the basic cuvée and proves this winery is continuing to innovate and make thrilling avant grade wines from the sandy soils and cool climate of the Sta. Rita Hills region. Bright and vibrant in profile still, this is still tightly would and it gets fuller, rounder and lengthy as it opens fully after an hour, making for a impressive performance for this Pinot that radiates with a ruby glow in the glass delivering a mix of reds fruits, spice, minty herb, mineral and hints of umami, dried flowers and blood orange. After a few minutes and a few swirls there is pretty rose petal, earthy loaminess, a touch of subtle wood and the fruit becomes more defined showing black cherry, pomegranate and strawberry. The 2017 vintage comes in at a healthy 14.5%, but in the mouth it feels cooly crisp and there is very light heat and it stays lively and fresh, while gaining a satiny grace with air and it is a wine that is best enjoyed with food.

As I have mentioned in my prior reviews, Greg Brewer’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir cuvee sees only neutral barrels (well seasoned) of French oak and is a selection of the best lots of each of the estate farmed vineyards. Depending on the vintage, Brewer-Clifton goes for all whole cluster fermentation(s) to make some racy wines that have quite a pop and get more and more aromatic with time, highlighting the nervy/tension nature of the stem inclusion, as this wine shows. This wine is usually made up of the three main Brewer-Clifton estate farmed sites, that includes the 3D, Machado, and Hapgood vineyards. According to Brewer and team, the 3D Vineyard, expresses a primary emphasis on it’s predominantly sandy soils, it’s main focus is Chardonnay planted here, but there is a small block of Pinot Noir here planted to classic Swan and Pommard as well as some 667 and 828 clone(s) that really stands out, then there is their Machedo Vineyard, a 15 acre parcel on the Machado family land that is located adjacent to Clos Pepe and immediately behind the Kessler-Haak site contains a selection of Pommard, Merry Edwards, Mount Eden, and 459 clone(s) on rolling terrain with sand, clay and loam soils. The latest releases from 2018 and 2019 look to be absolutely rockstars, so even if you can’t find this one, they are well worth your attention!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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