2012AlbatrossRidgeVivienne2012 Albatross Ridge, Pinot Noir “Cuvee Vivienne” Estate Grown, Carmel Valley.
One of the most exciting wines in Monterey, and especially in Carmel Valley, has to be the Albatross Ridge Pinot Noir(s) made by Garrett Bowlus, these beautifully crafted wines are the highlights of a extensive Carmel Valley tasting and were without a doubt the best Pinot Noir I’ve ever tried from the Valley. The Albatross Ridge estate sits high up, not far from from Talbott’s Diamond-T, across the valley from Garland Park with southeast exposure and set on chalky, ancient seabed, soils, this is a steep site and very cool, perfect for Burgundy style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pinot Cuvee Vivienne 2012 is a magnificent effort, it is richly detailed with gorgeous fruit and mouth feel with great acidity, focus and vigor, but with refined tannins and elegance throughout. The winemaking is impressive with deft touch and finesse, the 2012 Cuvee Vivienne saw about 30% new French oak, 100% native yeast fermentation and is unfixed and unfiltered, all of which preserves the purity and sense of terroir, Bowlus is very much a winemaker that rejoices in low alcohol and delicacy of flavors, very much as you find in Cobb, Hirsch, Peay and Failla wines from the Sonoma Coast, which the Albatross Ridge resembles. The 2012 Vivienne starts with spice, floral tones and earthy notes, it is medium dark ruby in hue with a palate of black cherry, tart plum and wild strawberry fruits, chalky stones, mineral and a fine creamy texture along with subtle fennel, briar and cedar. This is exciting Pinot and drinks with flourish and style, I loved the play of fruit, savory elements and vibrancy that keeps your attention from start to finish, look for further gains with bottle age and drink between 2016 and 2020. I tasted through the current lineup of Bowlus’ Albatross Ridge, all of which merit mention with a dense and lush estate Chardonnay, a tangy/austere Rose of Pinot Noir and a higher end estate reserve Pinot that displays a bit more power, body and smoky oak, a superb wine in it’s self, but the wine that really stood out for quality and price was this fabulous 2012 Cuvee Vivienne, named after Garrett’s young daughter. Pinot Noir looks set to be the go to grape for Carmel Valley, particularly in the cooler areas, my favorite wines are led by Albatross Ridge, but Silvestri and Holman Ranch are also very good too.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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