Masut Estate Pinot Noir – those Fetzer boys strike again!

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Jake and Ben Fetzer have a big name to live up to.  Third generation wine royalty, they grew up as members of the Mendocino powerhouse Fetzer family.  Now, they are making their own name with some great Mendocino pinot noir. The winery is located in the tranquil hills of Mendocino, in a barn that their father, Bobby Fetzer, build from recycled redwood.  Now, this barn serves as a rustic backdrop full of family memories, for their winery. Clinging to winemaking’s past, Masut makes small production pinot noir with all the benefits of the modern world.  Hand punch downs and the use of a fair bit of native yeast give the wines a different flavor profile than one might expect. Founded in 2009, the property was planted in 1997 by Jake, Ben and Bobby and has 23 acres in 13 blocks, of 777,115, and 113 clones.  With the cool coastal weather Masút Vineyard and Winery produces estate Pinot Noir from grapes grown on a hillside vineyard in Mendocino County’s coastal mountains. Brothers Ben and Jake Fetzer are the owners, growers and winemakers. The 2011 Estate Pinot Noir is a blend of all 13 blocks.  2011 was another cool growing season for pinot noir, something that I love, because I think it produces a clearer, crisper, acid laced product.  Hand sorted and destemmed, the Estate spent 11  months sleeping in 35% new French oak.  One of the signatures of Masut, the wine sat sur lie for an extended time, and was bottled unfined and filtered.  A gorgeous deep ruby, the nose is jumping out of the glass with sour cherry and spice.  Rich, but full of bright red fruit, there is an underlying note of root beer and forest floor, covered with green peppercorn and baking spice.  A baby, this wine has huge potential and I can’t wait to taste it again in 6 months.  Well balanced and integrated. I will admit, I was not the biggest fan of the first two vintages – The 2009 was full of oak (at 55% new French I am not surprised) that totally killed the fruit.  The 2010 was more integrated but just wasn’t…there yet.  I am going to go wine spelunking to see if I can find the vertical, to see how they are developing! Block 1 – is dense, bold, and full of dark cherries.  Touches of rhubarb and cherry pie filling round out this workhorse.  All clone 115, red fruit and aromatic floral delight. Block 7 – The Block 7 bright, with zesty cranberry and bright red fruit.  I love this wine!  The 115 adds complexity and acid to the bold cherry notes, and hints of root beer and white pepper are showing through, and even though it’s aged in 100% new oak, it’s well integrated and I don’t find it overpowering (which is surprising given my adversity to oak).  While you can sense the heavy oak on the nose, the palate is full of spice and orange pekoe tea.  This will only get better. The Block 11 […]

Oh those Fetzer boys!

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  Yep, the pioneering family of the Sonoma Coast is at it again, this time with Masut Winery & Vineyards.  Ben & Jake Fetzer grew up on the vineyard, amongst the vines of Mendocino County.  After the family winery was sold in 1992, their father Bobby bought a new property in Redwood Valley and started over.  Here, Bobby, Ben & Jake focused on high quality organically grown Pinot Noir, naming it Masut – after the local Pomo Indian name for rich dark earth. Sadly, Bobby left this world too early.  Frankly, I would want to go out like he did – living large, rafting the whitewater.  Ben & Jake were determined to carry on the family name, and started the Masut winery label in 2009, using only estate grown grapes. The 2009 Estate Pinot Noir was aged in 55% new French oak.  It is a dark ruby, and tons of earthy goodness on the palate.  This is the opposite of a huge meaty Pinot Noir, and is a great example of how the cool climate of Redwood Valley produces subtle, different pinot noirs.  Dark berries and forest floor with a bit of coffee and bacon fat show through the medium body.  It has a touch more wood than I usually like but the earthiness is a welcome change from a puddle of pinot fruit bombs.  There is a sprinkling of nutmeg on top of the black cherry pie that really interested me.  After opening up a bit, I liked it more; there is something I just don’t like about Mendocino Pinot Noir though.  While there are many examples from Mendocino Ridge’s “Islands in the Sky” AVA that I adore, Redwood Valley is just not pinot country to me.  I’ve had some mind blowing cabs from that way, but this is just not my fave. I think it’s a touch over priced at $40 but if you can find it for $25 I’d definitely try it just to get an example of what the cool, damn climate in California can yield.  I was lucky enough to get two bottles, so I think I’ll lay the other one day and see how it develops over the next few months. Thanks for sending me this great example of Mendocino fruit!