Another prodigious effort is the 2012 Pinot Noir Arrendell Vineyard (nearly 300 cases produced), which comes from a site planted with the Martini clone of Pinot Noir in 1975. According to Don Hartford, this vineyard struggles to produce one ton of fruit per acre. This dense ruby/purple-colored 2012 offers up a big, sweet kiss of blackcurrants, black cherries, camphor, forest floor and violets. Round, opulent, full-bodied and lush with stunning purity and texture as well as a multidimensional personality, this unfined, unfiltered beauty can be enjoyed over the next decade. Part of the Jackson Family empire, Hartford Court is run with incredible enthusiasm and competence by Don Hartford and his winemaker, Jeff Stewart. One of the bright shining stars in California winedom, their Chardonnays are clearly Burgundian, but with sensational purity and ripeness. The Pinot Noirs are among the finest of Northern California, and Hartford Court’s Zinfandels rank alongside such top Zinfandel producers as Turley, Limerick Lane and Carlisle.I tasted six impressive 2013 Chardonnays, which are generally aged for 15 months in 100% French oak, with a range of 33% to 44% new. Bottling is done without fining or filtration. I tasted seven bottled Pinot Noirs from the sensational 2012 vintage. All of them are aged in 100% French oak, with the percentage of new oak ranging from a low of 25% to a high of 40%. Most of these wines spend 16 months in barrel prior to being bottled.
Glass-staining ruby. Brooding dark berry, kirsch and licorice aromas and flavors are enlivened by a zesty blood orange nuance and an intense floral quality. Dense and chewy in texture initially but softens and becomes livelier with aeration. Shows excellent power and focus on the finish, which is firmed by dusty tannins and a touch of smoky minerality. The yield from this vineyard was reportedly under a half ton per acre in 2012. "A grower's dream" is how Don Hartford described the 2012 vintage, "but a winery's nightmare if they weren't ready for the huge crop. If one didn't keep track of how much fruit they were going to get then they didn't have the manpower to process it or enough tanks to hold it," which meant that there was a hugely active market for the selling of excess, high-quality grapes "but not enough wineries equipped to take it." As for his own winery's take on the vintage, he described it as "a great crop, great fruit, beautiful wines," which is a familiar refrain by now. Hartford especially likes the balance of fruit to tannins because it makes the wines "drinkable now for those who want that. But they aren't fragile, so they should age nicely too."
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