2019 Elaine, Pinot Noir, Calypte Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
The latest release from Elaine Sale, a young winemaker and potentially a star in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, who I’ve been following for a few vintages now, is her handcrafted 2019 Monopole Pinot Noir from the Calypte Vineyard, which shows off a more exotic personality and is less oaky than her debut release with an almost Nebbiolo like character and a Chinato or Amaro note before revealing a range of black cherry, plum and red currant fruits, subtle spices, floral notes and polished toasty wood. The ruby and light garnet wine is highly aromatic and teases the senses with the mix of mountain herbs, porporri, marzipan and Moro oranges, all of which make it tasty thrill ride, but not as obviously a Russian River Pinot as her prior release, which sets it apart from the mainstream pack, more in the mold of some of Ross Cobb’s uniquely stylish efforts. i was turned on to Elaine’s wines by my friend Dylan Sheldon, who notably makes the Sheldon Wines, who has leant some expertise and guidance to this newly formed project that does this signature Pinot Noir and a excellent Chardonnay as well from their home vineyard. I really enjoyed the luxurious 2017 wines, but am more intrigued by this latest wine from Ms Sale, as it shows a more distinct and singular charm that seems to showcase a vineyard coming into its own. I also, have a few bottles of 2018, which I will open a bit later thinking their intensity and structure, from a cooler year, will benefit from patience, but of which I will report on in the not so distant future, it is exciting to see the success of this passionate effort.

Elaine Sale and her husband Mark, who founded Elaine Wines with the 2017 vintage, live on and, as they say, loving tend the Calypte Vineyard, where they source all of their limited production wine’s fruit. This 3-acre ridge-top vineyard was planted in the secluded Forestville area of the western Russian River Valley in 1998, where it sits up at an elevation of around 500 feet. The area is known for its Goldridge and Altamont soils, both having a high percentage of sandstone, gravel and shale, and drain well helping concentrate the flavors. Less than one mile from the Russian River and approximately 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Calype Vineyard fruit sees a huge benefit from the cool maritime climate and helps produce expressive wines, but with a nicely balanced profile, as this 2019 shows with pristine clarity. For the 2019 vintage, the Pinot production was up to 5 barrels from only 2 in 2017 and includes mainly clone 1115 and now a little clone 667 as well, with extremely severe cluster and berry selections made both in the vineyard and in the cellar, it saw about 10% whole-cluster and stems and was aged in oak for 12 months, with Elaine choosing to use about 20% new French wood, which I see as giving the wine a bit more transparency and authentic form. The growing season provided ripe and healthy grapes and while rich and textured, it is also fresh and came in with 14.1% natural alcohol, far from being hot and makes for a nice food wine that should go easily with a wide array of cuisine options from duck confit to more simple meat dishes, as well as wild mushrooms and even fleshier fish, like salmon or ahi. With the limited availability, I suggest joining the mailing list here and follow along as this label develops, there’s some serious potential here.
($50 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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