Coming in this month’s Special Selections shipment is the 2009 Chronicle Pinot Noir from the famed Savoy Vineyard. We thought our wine club customers might enjoy learning about what made us select this wine while also hearing a bit about the vineyard, winemaker and owner which wouldn’t fit in our regular monthly newsletter.
Chronicle Wines has a relatively simple premise, show off the outstanding vineyards and terrior of the North Coast of California. Many of these famed vnieyards are both sustainably and organically farmed.
Chronicle is owned by Mike Hengehold, himself a veteran of the wine industry both through birth (his dad owned a vineyard and he grew up in wine country) as well as pedigree, having run Luna Vineyards for close to a decade. We’ve found that having supportive ownerhsip is incredibly important, but having a supportive owner who understands the wine industry creates an incredible environment.
The winemaker at Chronicle is James McPhail who is also a California native and boasts family ties in Marin County to before the turn of last century. James has made a name for himself at previous wine stops including Sequana Vineyards which has produced a solid run of 90+ point Pinot Noir’s many of which priced under $40. What interested us about James wasn’t as much as his pedigree in winemaking, but instead his varied set of life experiences. Not to be too corny, but Pinot Noir moreso than any other varietal gives me a sense of place. Having a winemaker who grew up in Sonoma County and who appreciates that sense of place based on years of travel, was an interesting combination. Of course, the long history of producing great Pinot was pretty interesting as well.
Lastly, the most important part of the wine: The Savoy Vineyard. Originally planted in 1991, clone densities have needless to say changed some over the years, but there is about 30 acres of Pinot Noir currently planted. Located in Anderson Valley, the vineyard is slightly warmer than its neighbors because it is protected on two sides, one by a mountain and the other by a small naturally occuring rise. Littorai has made a name for itself as a wine label almost exclusively from this vineyard site, which many winemakers during our conversations count among the ten most important in California for Pinot Noir.
Overall, we simply thought that the 2009 Chronicle Pinot Noir Saovy Vineyard was an excellent, excellent wine. It is heavier on darker fruit than many other Pinot Noir’s you’ll find in California, but keeps a sense of elegance and grace at the same time.
Why try and explain our tasting notes, when we can let the professionals at Wine Enthusiast do it instead:
“The grapes obviously were well grown, as this wine shows a particular intensity of red cherry fruit, as well as minerality. The acidity is just about perfect, the tannins brisk and fine. Yet it’s too young to offer full enjoyment. Cellar this polished Pinot Noir for 4–6 years to let it change in interesting ways.” Cellar Selection
As a vintage, 2009 was an unqualified success. It was a year where we achieved physiological ripeness in Anderson Valley at lower brix and lower potential alcohols. This was the result of a moderate spring and summer, punctuated by a few stretches near harvest when temperatures hovered in the 90’s.