After our adventure barrel tasting at Cartograph, we were lucky enough (ok fine, Alan knows people) to be treated to a very special private tasting at Arista Winery. I’ve been to Arista before, and have always enjoyed their Pinot Noirs, but this was realy a treat a we were able to taste 7 older vintages of rare wines. Mark McWilliams met us outside with a plethora of older vintages and we were wowed by some of the Pinot Noirs from Arista.
Arista Winery was founded by the McWilliams family in 2002, with the intention of creating world class elegant Pinot Noirs from the Russian River valley. Creating wines in the vineyard with sustainable practices and small lots, each wine is an expression on the local terroir. OK yes, fluff and bother but true all the same.
We started with a Longbow vertical. Longbow is known for it’s blend of the best barrels, and for creating a more powerful style. As a general rule, it is unfined and unfiltered, and uses the racking process as a natural filter. the Longbow series is minimally invasive, which allows the fruit to really show throguh. Named for the midevel weapon that is very difficult to master, the Longbow series really shows the best of the bunch with Pinot Noirs that are difficult to master.
The 2004 Longbow Pinot Noir was dark and rich, with powerful black cherry and raspberry flavors. 2004 was a warmer year, and more new French Oak (60%) was used to counterbalanced the strong fruit. This is a blend of the Manoni and Taboni vineyards, and the vibrant cherries were followed by a chewy and rich flavor of stewed tomato, caramel, and balsamic strawberries.
the 2005 Longbow Pinot is slightly lighter than the 04, and showed more muddy earth flavors of allspice, nutmeg and black pepper. I tasted forest floor and mushrooms, with bark and cedar followed by cola and hints of red fruit.
The 2006 was very aromatic and had strong rose petal aromas, with orange blossom notes. It is primarily clone 113, and was very herbaceous with herbs de Provence, meaty earth, and less pronounced fruit. there was a strong sense of smoke and sandlewood, which dark plums lingering. It was quite smooth and velvety, but a bit too smoky for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked all of the wines, but this was my least favorite of the batch.
2007 was too young, and the finish fell a bit short. there was a lot of vanilla and cherry, but I also found tomatoes and soy sauce. The wood was a bit too pronounced and needs more time to integrate.
I actually really loved all of the Longbow wines, and they are all very different. My favorite was the 2004.
Next we moved on to some barrel samples with the 2009 Two birds Swan Vineyard. this was a HUGE wine, and I referred to it as my hunka hunka burning love. The 2009 Two Birds Calera Selection was a completely different wine, with acidic zippy cherries and raspberries and bright red fruit. It had a lot of spice and slightly muted earth.
After tasting both of these wines, we had some fun making our own blends, and I found that about 33% Swan and 66% Calera made for a beautiful wine with the dark red fruit, and zippiness of bright cherries. I hope the final blend will be something like that1
Special thanks to Alan & Mark for yet another great day out at Arista!