2017 Elaine Wines, Pinot Noir, Calypte Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
A luxurious inaugural release Pinot Noir from Elaine Sale of Elaine Wines in Forestville, a cool climate zone in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County, made in a style that follows some of her famous neighbors and reminds me of Martinelli, Merry Edwards, Lynmar, Rochioli and Papapietro Perry with its deep concentration, bold flavors and lots of toasty French oak. This is a pretty seductive and confident first effort from Sale and it certainly makes the most of the vintage with lush black cherry, raspberry, plum and mission fig fruits along with sassafras/cola bean, black tea spiciness, subtle rose petals, lavish medium plus Burgundy barrel accents with vanilla and sweet smoke that adds a sense of hedonistic richness and will appeal to those that want a sleek modern Pinot. With air, this wine opens up nicely, shedding its more obvious ripeness and wood allowing a glimpse of where this wine is heading, like other bigger Pinots from this region, a sense of graceful refinement comes through, making for a wonderfully comforting wine that has some potential to blossom with another few years in bottle. This youthful and expressive wine goes super with many menu options from blackened salmon to short ribs, it gets more complex and complete with hearty cuisine and it proved itself as a crowd pleaser with a range of picky wine drinks.

Elaine, who sources her wines from the Calypte Vineyard, does this Pinot Noir along with a Chardonnay, which I will dig into soon as well, was referred to me by a winemaker friend who sees this vineyard and wine as future stars. The Calypte Vineyard set on ancient riverbed with a graveling mix of stony soils was planted in 1998 and is, as noted, located in Forestville in the western zone of the Russian River Valley with lots of fog in the evenings and mornings with a nice sunny exposure that captures plenty of afternoon warm. This three acre hillside vineyard, according to Elaine, sits at an elevation of 500 feet, less than one mile from the Russian River and just about 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean with hand tended vines that are carefully overseen by Ms Sale. This Calypte Vineyard Pinot, 100% clone 115, was born from serve selections of hand picked grapes and saw about 10% whole cluster in the fermentation, along with a extended cold soak for full fruit extraction and giving this wine its dark color. The Elaine Calypte Pinot, which is an ultra limited offering with just under 50 cases produced, was raised in barrique for 12 months with this vintage seeing close to 50% new oak, which adds to the lavish mouth feel and silky tannin. I look forward to seeing how this wine develops with some cellar time and I’m very excited to see how Elaine did with her 2018s.
($50 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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