wines of Kutch, Sonoma, California
Impressive 2009 Pinot Noir releases from Jamie Kutch
people turn to wine as a second career. They make their money in
business, and then see owning a vineyards as a nice retirement job.
Known in the trade as life-stylers, they rarely make great wine, and
push up vineyard prices in the process.
wine is a second career for Jamie Kutch, his story is quite
different. He caught the wine bug while working as a NASDAQ trader
for Merrill Lynch in New York, and this led him to change careers
before heíd broken 30. Through internet discussion boards, he
chatted to Michael Browne of renowned Sonoma Pinot Noir producer
Kosta Browne, who invited him to take an internship.
Jamie and his partner swapped New York for San Francisco, and he
began living a double life. During the day, Jamie worked as a trader
in San Francisco, and then after work and weekends he immersed
himself in vineyard and winery work. The day job lasted six months.
When his internship came to an end, Jamie started his own project
making Pinot Noir.
key challenge facing him was to acquire fruit from the best cool
(and even) cold vineyard sites in Sonoma. His trading skills helped,
and first release was the 2005 vintage. Here I got a chance to taste
the fifth vintage, from 2009.
Pinot Noirs are made as naturally as possible. The grapes are
harvested by hand and then fermented in small open-top containers
with hand (and foot) punch downs, using indigenous yeasts.
Acidification is sometimes needed, but is kept to a minimum. After
fermentation the wines go to French oak barrels, of which some are
new, and are not racked until bottling, which takes place 16 months
later. Just free run juice is used, and the pressings are sold off.
with many high-end Californian wines, these Pinot Noirs are sold
through a mailing list. I think they are brilliant, and if I was in
the USA I'd do all I could to get on it.
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009
13.9% alcohol, 288 cases made. This comes from three separate
vineyards, and the grapes are destemmed and then fermented in
three-quarter ton bins with manual punch down, before going to
French oak, a third of which is new. Sweetly aromatic nose with warm
red cherry fruit and fine spicy notes. Itís ripe and alluring but
quite elegant. The palate is smooth-textured with good
concentration. Mouthfilling, ripe and seamless, but still with a
mineral, spicy dimension. Good balance. 93/100
McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2009 Sonoma Coast
13.9% alcohol, 288 cases made. 40% whole cluster used, with 50%
new oak. Fresh, assertive cherry fruit nose with some fine spicy
notes, as well as a pleasant hint of greenness. Fresh and taut on
the palate but with firm structure and nice spiciness, perhaps from
the stems. Power and elegance combined. Nicely fresh and savoury,
showing some sweet cherry and plum fruit. Dry, tannic finish. Quite
serious, with potential for development. 94/100
Falstaff Pinot Noir 2009 Sonoma Coast
13.1% alcohol, 168 cases. 40% whole cluster with 60% new oak.
Fresh, sappy cherry fruit nose with subtle spiciness. Very bright.
The palate is savoury with nice structure and a lovely subtle green
edge to the cherry fruit. I like the structure here: thereís some
grip, but itís finely grained. A distinctly fresh, elegant,
savoury style. 94/100
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2009
13.8% alcohol, 264 cases. 100% destemmed. Beautifully open,
aromatic nose is supple and lively with red cherry and berry fruits
as well as a hint of sappiness. The palate is fresh but textured
with lively cherry fruit and subtle spiciness. Lovely balance
between the sweet fruit and fresh, subtly green, savoury spicy
notes. Expressive and elegant. 93/100
Jensen and Calera
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