The 2013 Pinot Noir Velvet Sisters Vineyard (480 cases) comes from the northern end of Anderson Valley and Dijon clones 115, 667, 777 and a clone often seen in Oregon, Pommard. Aged in 37% new oak, this is another compelling, blue-fruited Pinot Noir with notes of spring flowers, blueberries, blackberries, Asian plum sauce and forest floor, in a full-bodied, gorgeously textured and opulent style. This is certainly one of the most sexy of all these Pinot Noirs for drinking now and over the next 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.
The 2013 Pinot Noir Velvet Sisters is going to need some time to open up. Today, it is the wine's total sense of purity that is compelling. Freshly cut flowers and stone fruits emerge gradually, but the 2013 remains quite embryonic and not fully formed. Still, the wine's potential is pretty easy to see.
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