2016 Anthill Farms, Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
Opened for a small family night celebration, the 2016 Anthill Farms Tina Marie Pinot Noir, was a perfect choice with the beginnings of maturity and supple fruit, made for an exceptional evening and reminded me of just how good these wines are, especially with a touch of age on them. Three winemaking friends, Webster “Web” Marquez, Anthony Filiberti and David Low started Anthill Farms in 2004, and quickly became a cult hit, producing beautiful Pinot Noirs from cool climate Sonoma and Mendocino fruit. Now they do about eight single vineyard wines and a couple of regional offerings with a little Chardonnay and Syrah thrown in, all are top notch stuff, with the regional Anderson Valley Pinot being one of the state’s best values as well, if you can find it! This Tina Marie, which sadly hasn’t been in the lineup in recent years, is a fabulous and pure Pinot Noir with a pretty floral bouquet and deep ruby color in the glass that leads to a medium bodied palate of black cherry, tree picked plum, crushed raspberry and strawberry fruits that are perfectly accented by hints of orange/herb tea, cinnamon, mocha, cedar, a stony saline note and wilted roses. The mouth feel is opulent and silky, while there is an underlying energy and smooth natural acidity that keeps everything in focus, this wine confidently expressing itself right now with a ripe luxuriousness, but with a brilliant low alcohol, it is just 13.2%, that allows full enjoyment without guilt worries when the bottle emptied a little too quickly.

The Tina Marie Vineyard, a tightly spaced site farmed by Ron Black and Stephen Bessone, sits within the Green Valley zone of the Russian River Valley AVA and has lots of cooling influences and sets on a complex set of Wilson Grove soils, made up of shallow, ancient ocean floor sediments, sandstone, gravel and river stones. The Tina Marie is one of the top crus in the stellar collection from the guys at Anthill Farms, which are all small lot offerings that are hand crafted to express each of their single vineyards using native yeasts and partial whole cluster, depending on vintage, with the wines seeing a restrained use of new oak to promote the fruit quality and transparency, which this gorgeous 2016 is delivering rich now. I’ve been luck to have tasted with Anthony Filiberti on a few occasions and I’ve always been a fan of these wines, but I still was blown away with how this 2016, a vintage that had a mixed reaction early on, is performing, this wine has a ton of personality and wow factor. With the single vineyard wines, Filiberti and the team at Anthill Farms typically do close to 30-40% whole bunches and do lengthy macerations with three weeks of daily punchdowns before racking to barrels where they employ about 25% new French oak and age them about 15 months. When this Tina Marie fully opened it revealed hints of earth and spice with the fruit settling down enough to allow the wine to unfold in all of its glorious complexity and it lingered on and on. If this 2016 is anything to go by, the 2018 and 2019s are going to be legendary in a few years!
($48 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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