2011HolmanRanchPN2011 Holman Ranch, Pinot Noir, Heather’s Hill Estate, Carmel Valley.
Every so often I visit my hometown, Carmel Valley near Carmel on the Monterey Peninsula and check out the local wine scene and I try to spotlight new or special developments in the region, and this summer I looked into some new wineries, including the Holman Ranch Vineyards. Local vineyard guru Greg Vita, winemaker and consultant to many Carmel Valley wineries including Galante Vineyards, showed me (his) Holman Ranch wines recently and he enthused about the potential of this estate just east of the Village in Carmel Valley. These young vines with excellent exposure and soils are beginning to show real promise, I was very impressed with many of the Pinot Noir offerings from the Holman Ranch, especially this Heather’s Hill bottling from 2011 which Vita says comes from mostly Calera clone and some 115 clone, these are slightly austere wines, but I can see why he is excited and I look forward to seeing the 2013 and 2014 wines, as the vine age hits a more mature level. Vita says the 2013 will be a turning point, a break through vintage for Carmel Valley Pinot Noir. Many have tried Pinot here with very mixed results and awkward wines, though some promise has been shown, with Figge and a few others making some fine efforts in recent years. The Holman Ranch has an interesting mix of clones and it’s own unique so called micro-climate, and Vita explained in great detail that the chemistry is really good, the grapes are not showing some of the areas deficiencies that make for unattractive wines, being a native to Carmel Valley I couldn’t help getting excited, I’ve been wondering if ever there was going to be a great Pinot made here for decades, and I finally see there might be in the coming years. The 2011 Holman Ranch Heather’s Hill is earthy with chalky texture, it hits the palate with a spicy intensity, but opens to dark fruit with air and fills out nicely on the palate, it is still serve in many ways and has a few gaps, though I must say it is very enjoyable. The 2012 wine is lighter and comes across quite a bit thinner, this true of the alcohol with 2011 being about 14% and the 2012 coming in at just over 12.5%, so the the 2011 is more generous and deep, I also tried the first releases from 2010 and they were juicy and likable as well, but the 2011’s were more complete and complex. The cool vintage comes through with nice acidity and brisk profile with a core of plum, red berry and cherry fruits with hints of red spice, basil, mushroom and cedar forming a wine that might get better with another year or so in bottle, though drinks well now. I think there is some real potential for the up coming vintages and while it is a nice start it is that glimpse into the future that is what is most intriguing here, Carmel Valley has some complex issues to solve in it’s search for identity and especially in finding a signature wine and grape, maybe it will turn out to be Pinot Noir, for now it is very uncertain, but who knows, and this wine might change the discussion down the road.
($37 Est.) 88-90 Points, grapelive

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