The 2013 Pinot Noir MacLean Block comes from a vineyard east of the town of Occidental and saw 36% new French oak prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is from Dijon clone 667 and 777 from a relatively high-elevation site that needs plenty of time to ripen fully. About 30% whole-clusters were used in this wine, which is dense ruby/purple with loads of spice, damp earth, forest floor and mushrooms as well as raspberry and black cherry fruit. It should drink well for up to a decade. With proprietor Don Hartford in full control, and brilliant winemaker Jeff Stewart having access to some magnificent cool-climate sites (for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel), Hartford Family Winery continues to be one of the great success stories in California viticulture. The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs all have very Burgundian personalities, no doubt from the minimal-interference winemaking, great terroirs and terrific raw materials. The Zinfandels are certainly among the top half-dozen or so Zinfandels produced in all of California. I have always had fabulous tastings with Don Hartford and his winemaker, but this may have been the best tasting ever, largely because of the strength of the 2014 Chardonnays and Zinfandels and the 2013 Pinot Noirs. (RP)
Game, smoke, tobacco, savory herbs and leather emerge from the 2013 Pinot Noir MacLean's Block. This is one of the wilder, more savory wines in the range. Slightly angular contours and incisive tannins give the MacLean's Block much of its distinctive personality. It’s hard to know where to start with this superb set of new and upcoming releases from Don Hartford and Jeff Stewart. The Chardonnays and Pinots get most of the attention, but the Zinfandels, most of which emerge from 100 year-old vineyards, may very well be the most impressed wines in this range. The Chardonnays are all fermented and aged in barrel (around 33%-60% new) for 15 months and bottled with no fining or filtration. Pretty much the same is true of the Pinots, which perhaps see a touch less new oak than the Chardonnays. The Zinfandels are made in a distinctly Pinot-influenced style that emphasizes aromatics and silkiness. (AG)
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