Domaine de la Côte
One of California's top Pinot Noir producers, from the Santa Rita Hills


Domaine de la Côte has, in a very brief period, established itself as one of California’s top proponents of Pinot Noir. It’s based on six vineyards on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills: Memorious, Bloom’s Field, Siren’s Call, Clos Juliet, La Côte and a sixth site that’s appellation Sta. Rita Hills. Altogether these vineyards total some 40 acres (16.2 hectares), and there’s altitude here (700 feet is the highest spot), as well as a diversity of soils and aspects, even though the sites are near to each other. The basis of the soils is an ancient 25 million year old siliceous and diatomaceous seabed. The wines are made by super-Somm Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman.

Raj Parr

The vineyards were originally planted by Sashi Moorman and Chris King in 2007 with Californian heritage selections (rather than Dijon clones; the logic being that Californian clones will have been selected for the local conditions) at very high density (one site is as high as 17 000 vines/ha), as part of the Evening Land Vineyards program. ‘It’s an estate of slopes,’ says Parr, ‘Eight miles from the Pacific Ocean.’

Sashi Moorman

Evening Land was a grand project looking to make cool-climate wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Santa Rita Hills, Sonoma and Oregon, with Dominique Lafon as the consultant winemaker. It was Moorman’s job to locate suitable vineyard sites in Santa Rita Hills. The domaine was purchased by Raj and Sashi, along with a couple of Texan-based business partners, in 2013 when Evening Land went through some changes.

Parr and Moorman are also involved in a negociant project, Sandhi, which I have written up separately. Charles Banks is a partner in this project, and the wines are fabulous also.


Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, California
Pure, floral, pretty nose with ripe cherries and red fruits. So pretty. The palate is fine and elegant with a supple, pure personality and fine cherry fruit. Nice grip and spiciness here. Super-elegant. 95/100 (03/14)

Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Rita Hills, California
50% whole bunch, from 4 different slopes. 20 months’ elevage with natural yeasts. Lively and fresh with bright cherry and plum fruit. Supple and fresh with lovely texture: so expressive and pure. 94/100 (12/14)

Domaine de la Côte ‘Bloom’s Field’ Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, California
From a cooler site with iron-rich soils under diatomaceous earth. Elegant and supple with fine, grippy cherry and plum fruit. There’s some generosity to the sweet cherry fruit but also some grippy structure. Real concentration. 95/100 (03/14)

Domaine de la Côte ‘Bloom’s Field’ Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Rita Hills, California
From diatomaceous soils. 100% stems. Very fresh and lively with precise cherry and plum fruit. Textured and full with a nice sappy green edge to the sweet cherry fruit. Really expressive. 94/100 (12/14)

Domaine de la Côte ‘La Côte’ Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, California
Beautifully floral, perfumed nose with sweet raspberries and cherries. The palate has a spicy, sappy edge to the textured, fine cherry and plum fruit, showing great concentration and a mineral energy under the fruit. Such finesse and detail. 96/100 (03/14)

Domaine de la Côte ‘La Côte’ Pinot Noir 2011 Santa Rita Hills, Calfornia
The packaging here is making a nod at DRC. It’s a bit like playing football wearing a Brazil shirt. This has a fine, expressive nose with spice and herbs complementing the floral fruit. The palate is tight and structured with some edginess, and a grippy finish. But this complements rather than takes away from the fine, pure fruit, and haunting minerality. Just beautiful. 95/100 (02/14)

Domaine de la Côte ‘La Côte’ Pinot Noir 2012 Santa Rita Hills, California
Shale soils, 100% stems. Sweet, ripe, smooth black cherry fruit here. Textured and fine with some richness, and also notes of herbs and spice. Stylish and smooth. 94/100 (12/14)

UK agents are Roberson

See also:

Sandhi, California
Kutch, California
Arnot Roberts, California
Hirsch Vineyards, California
Littorai, California


Wines tasted as indicated (month/year)  
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