2012BaxterWholeCluster2012 Baxter, Pinot Noir, Oppenlander “Whole Cluster” Mendocino.
Phillip Baxter, based in the Anderson Valley, joins an elite list of winemakers crafting beautiful Pinot Noir, and his gorgeous 2012 Whole Cluster a new benchmark for sheer beauty, class and quality, one of my top picks from the vintage and an absolute stunner. Baxter trained in Burgundy with Pascal Marchand at Le Domaine de la Vougeraie and has put that to good use, even though in this case with his Whole Custer, it was a totally new experiment, but a hugely successful one, and his talents are on show throughout his impressive lineup of Mendocino and Anderson Valley offerings. The Oppenlander Whole Cluster stands out, it is like a Grand Cru, majestic and regal, somewhat like Burgundy’s Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru does in a lineup up great Crus, it just has that something extra and flamboyantly shows it off. The 2012 Baxter Whole Cluster Oppenlander Vineyard, a cool climate site, starts with violets, rose oil, liquid minerals and is bursting with red fruits in the nose which is incense laced and wonderfully perfumed and spicy leading to a refined, but open knit palate of tangy plum, black cherry, fresh squeezed raspberries, briar, cinnamon and pomegranate along with sappy notes, loam and cola bean. There is a fresh streak of flowing acidity, but an extraordinary texture and well ripened tannins, the stems have melded in perfection to the soul of this wine, leaving a heavenly mouth feel and finish. The structure is sound, the balance superb and while long and silky, it has vibrancy and life, this will gain with a year or so in bottle, though no waiting is needed, drink from 2015 to 2020, this is outstanding Pinot Noir and Baxter is a name to write down in bold letters, you will want this wine!
($60 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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