Tense and dynamic, this wine has the fresh coastal air of a conifer forest in the uplands of the Mendocino coast. There’s a brisk, glimmering intensity to the red fruit that places it on top of a coastal ridge, a brilliant length of flavor combining fresh notes of forest mushrooms, stemmy scents of spice in the tannins and floral red fruit—a combination that inhabits your breath after you take a sip, and lasts in transparent shades of the original taste. This wine grows at the Peterson family’s vineyard in Comptche, grapes offered to Andrew Tow only for this year. He and his winemaker, David Low, cold soaked those grapes for a week, with 35 percent whole bunches; after a slow fermentation, they aged the wine in mostly old barrels, undisturbed for a year. Tow plans to use the Claire’s Vineyard label, named after his mother, for exceptional one-offs like this Pinot Noir.
This wine has a wild side, bringing out the savory smoky singed-rosemary and cooked-cherry elements of the varietal, with great balance aided by firm acidity and tannins. With its spicy aromas and layered concentrated flavors, this should improve with some age. Best after 2021. (JG)
The 2016 Pinot Noir Claire's Vineyard is the biggest and most powerful of these wines, in relative terms, of course, as all the Pinots are on the restrained side. Black cherry, spice, lavender and leather add to the dark personality and ample feel. I would give the 2016 at least another year or two in bottle to be at its very best. (AG)
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