Christie Kiley on February 23, 2015 0 Comments If you love Pinot Noir, you will understand when I say that there is something about it that you cannot get enough of. Sure, it is not a wine to have on a daily basis, as it is a type of wine which deserves a little thought and appreciation and even a nice meal. It is a wine to mark special occasions even if the special occasion is to reward yourself for a hard week’s work. There is something about a good Pinot that leaves room to something you cannot quite wrap your head around; its fruit, the earthiness of it all. It has a bit of a je ne sais quoi. There are plenty of Pinot Noir wines of the world that deserve some recognition, but for today I will just do one, the 2013 Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The Winery The estate was founded in 1980 by Walter Schug who developed a wine making career as the founding winemaker of Joseph Phelps in the 70s. It was there where he made the first Bordeaux-style red of Phelps. Some of you might have heard of it? It was Insignia, the iconic red wine of Joseph Phelps released each year with a big celebration on the property. Though Bordeaux reds were fun for him to create, the cool climate varietals were always closer to his heart. So he decided to take his skills to Carneros to work with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. So in 1980 he decided to team up with his wife and make a family affair out of the operation. Walter and his wife have winemaking in their bloodline with both of their fathers having been winemakers in Germany. The two met while she was working as the administrative assistant of her father’s estate, Weingut Annaberg. Throughout their youthful relationship, six years went by while Walter trained at a number of wineries in Germany, England and in California, while he worked on his diploma in Viticulture & Enology at Geisenheim, Germany. They spent a year apart and in 1960, Walter returned to Germany and immediately asked his wife to marry him and a month later they got on a boat to New York. In a very ‘California or Bust’ style they traveled the roads to California in the VW Beetle, skis strapped to the roof and headed west. Here is where there dedication and persistence in working in the wine industry began, when California had yet to really be put on the map and be recognized as a world renowned wine region. It was over a decade that Walter worked at the Phelps’ estate before him and his wife decided they wanted to go out on their own. They had already worked on their own label which had more than reached its maturation and the winery they leased to make it was becoming very small. It was in 1989 they bought fifty acres in the Carneros Appellation of Sonoma and began to plant their very own vineyards. Today, their three children work in the winery from the administrative side to imports to Europe and in sales and marketing. The Vineyards The Carneros region in Sonoma is the ideal location for the widely recognized cool-climate grapes of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their vineyards surround the winery site, but to expand their portfolio of terroir and location, some of their fruit is purchased from respected growers. The district of Carneros is a region of low hills and flatlands that is heavily influenced by the Pacific air and the bay to the south. Fog rolls in during the morning hours cooling the area that burns off as the sun rises. As the fog of the area dissipates it is kept cool by the Petaluma Gap winds that come up through the mountains from the bay. To protect themselves from the wind, the grapes grow thicker skins which add spicy nuances to their wines. Walter knows that it takes special grapes to make equally special wines. The Wine The 100% Pinot Noir grapes of this wine were grown in the Sonoma Coast AVA in their hand-selected vineyards that lie in the western area of Carneros where the Petaluma Gap winds come through and make their daily visit. It is an elegant wine with nice touches of bright acidity and a balance of spice from the slight aging in seasoned French oak and large neutral casks. There are lovely flavors of raspberries and bright red cherries with lovely warm spices of cinnamon bark and freshly shaved nutmeg. The weight of the wine is light and the tannins are balanced. They show a touch of youth but that is nothing a grilled salmon steak with some roasted herbaceous potatoes will not balance out.