2021 Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

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We have a deep love of Burgundy and new world pinot noir made with a focus on freshness and balance. When we decided to make a Pinot Noir in 2018, we first looked for a site in Mendocino Ridge appellation, but ultimately turned to Oregon when we could not find a good, organic fruit source. In 2019 we found a great source of Pinot Noir in the appellation on the second ridge from the Pacific Ocean. This appellation is also known as Islands in the Sky because the vineyards sit on high elevation ridges above the fog line. There are great sites on the first ridge, but it is often too cold to get consistent results unless you are making sparkling wine. We are also of the mind that Pinot Noir needs to achieve a bit of ripeness (but not too much) so the wine is not green tasting.

The 2021 vintage was marked by low yields and small berries. We love high elevation vineyards because the nighttime temperatures are relatively warmer and the low diurnal shift creates Pinot Noir with beautiful balance. It allows us to pick the grapes earlier to preserve freshness and create a wine that shows restraint. 


100% Pinot Noir

Mariah Vineyards is family owned and farmed by Dan and Vicki Dooling. It is beyond sustainability and organic as the first Savory Institute Global Land to Market Verified regenerative vineyard. The vineyard is situated at 2400 feet elevation on a remote ridge near Point Arena and has black loam soils. The vineyard was originally planted to Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot starting in 1980. The Syrah and Merlot blocks have been replaced with Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

This wine has a ruby color but with medium light intensity. The nose shows subtle strawberry, Santa Rosa plum and savory notes of damp earth. The palate excites with wild strawberry in the attack and layers of raspberry and red licorice with a frame of lime and slate mineral. There is a ton of tension on the palate but the tannin is like a scaffold that supports the wine. What we like the most about this wine is the nerve and the freshness. It is very linear without a blocky quality or saltiness you see in many California pinot noirs. This wine, like all of our Pinot Noirs will really benefit from a few years of cellaring. Our favorite dish with this bottle? A delicious mushroom risotto!

The grapes were picked on September 7th at night. After they were picked Dan Dooling loaded the grapes onto his beautiful 1960’s Peterbilt and trucked them down to the winery. We chose to bring in 3 tons of Dijon clone 115 and 1.5 tons of Dijon clone 667 pinot noir. Since this is mountain fruit, we were scared of the chemistry. Mountain fruit tends to have a high pH and high acidity which leads to a salty tasting wine. Many winemakers will add lots of acid to pinot noir when it hits the tank in this situation but we don’t. Our strategy is to let the fermentation drop out all of the extra potassium naturally. Our strategy was successful and led to a wine with pretty normal chemistry and no saltiness!

The grapes were destemmed and put into the tank. We warmed the tank to get the fermentation to start naturally and then let if ferment at cool temperatures with very gentle cap movements. This wine fermented quickly and we held it for a couple of days at warm temperatures (80F) to get a bit more extraction. Afterward, we drained the tank and transferred the free-run wine to new and used large-format barrels. The pressed wines were aged separately and added to our Glou Glou wine. The free-run wine was very light in color as usual. Pinot noir puts on color when it ages in barrel and becomes a beautiful jewel. We left the wine to age on its lees until one month before bottling (14 months after harvest), when it was racked clean. Before bottling, we racked the wine clean from tank to tank, and we were able to bottle without fining or filtration.

Production: 393 cases 750mL | Alc: 13.12% | TA: 6.91 g/L | pH: 3.66 | VA: 0.82 g/L | RS: 0.55  g/L | Total SO2: 74 ppm | Dissolved CO2 at bottling: 756 ppm | Turbidity at bottling: 19 NTU

Download a technical data sheet here.

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Produced + Bottled by Las Jaras Wines in Sebastopol, CA