An outrageously superb effort, the 2012 Pinot Noir Far Coast Vineyard sees 25% new oak. It offers a flowery, black cherry, forest floor and underbrush-scented bouquet. Deep, full-bodied, stunningly concentrated, pure, rich and expansive on the palate, this knock-out wine should drink well for 10 years. 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. In addition to their enviable portfolio of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, Hartford Court is one of the top Zinfandel specialists in California. The five 2013 Zinfandels I tasted were all bottled early to preserve their fruit and character.
Bright ruby. Deeply pitched red fruit preserve, anise and incense aromas are lifted by a sexy floral element. Stains the palate with sweet raspberry and rose pastille flavors, picking up notes of mocha and vanilla with air. Distinctly energetic and pure, with a seamless texture and a firm spine of acidity contributing structure. Finishes sweet, floral and very long, with subtle tannins building slowly and fading smoothly into the wine's fruit. "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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