2005 Fort Ross Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir
2005 Fort Ross Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir

2005 Fort Ross Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir

Sonoma Coast, United States 2005 (750mL)
Regular price$59.00

2005 Fort Ross Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir

We offer plenty of what we’d consider bucket list bottles here at SommSelect, but they rarely tick every box quite like Fort Ross’ 2005 Pinot Noir does. The Golden State’s most extreme terroir for Burgundy varieties? Check. Blink-and-you’ll-miss-out rarity? Yup. History-making, pioneering producer? Almost two decades of bottle age, placing this wine at its absolute drinking zenith? Frankly unbelievable value? Check, check, and check. This is, to put it simply, the sort of wine we started SommSelect for. It’s an experience that almost seems too good to be true: High-toned floral and spice lift married to the umami savor you only get from bottle age. It’s beautifully aged Sonoma Pinot Noir absolutely firing on all cylinders. And it costs pretty much the same as the estate’s current releases! A bottle of this quality, this age, this value is basically unheard of these days in California. Do not hesitate; we guarantee Fort Ross’ 2005 Pinot won’t be around long!

You might notice that Fort Ross’ Pinot only carries a “Sonoma Coast” designation, but that woefully undersells the majestic terroir behind it. This hails from some of the most dramatic vineyards you’ll find on the West Coast (if you are ever in the area definitely pay the winery a visit, it’s a gorgeous spot). First, Fort Ross’ vines are literally the closest to the ocean in all of California, barely a mile away. They’re buttressed by near-constant Pacific breezes, reducing yields and lowering disease pressure.  The vines are at such a high elevation, they rise above Sonoma’s signature fog and receive full summertime sunshine. The vineyards cling to some of the steepest inclines in Golden State viticulture; most of the rest of Napa and Sonoma look like flatland meadows in comparison. In this beautiful but forbidding landscape, where many blocks can be reached only by foot, yields remain naturally low and concentrated. Unfortunately, when this wine was bottled, this special place was simply considered part of the general Sonoma Coast AVA. But since 2012 producers dedicated and skilled enough to farm here can label their wines with the “Fort Ross-Seaview” appellation.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dominate the Fort Ross landscape, and the truth is, anyone growing them is following in the footsteps of Fort Ross Vineyards. Lester and Linda Schwartz, South African natives working in San Francisco, took over the property in 1988. Back then it was nothing but virgin forest. But Linda and Lester dreamed of one day growing grapes there. They were told by academics and grape growers alike that Fort Ross was too cold to ripen grapes for wine, but after six years of experimentation, decided that Pinot and Chardonnay could thrive here. How right they were–Fort Ross-Seaview is now some of the most coveted vineyard land in the state, famous for deep fruit married to a downright Burgundian structure. Fort Ross Pinot can be a little tightly wound in its youth, although with, say, 19 years of age, it becomes something truly special.

The 2005 Fort Ross Pinot Noir was fully destemmed, given a cold soak for a few days, then spontaneously fermented in large, open-top vats with daily punchdowns. Each block is fermented separately, and blends are made only after extensive trials. We strongly encourage pouring the ‘05 Fort Ross into large Burgundy bowls to fully appreciate the incredible aromatic range on display. Dried red cherries, strawberry leaf, dried cranberries, orange peel, and cherry liqueur lead the nose, commingled with woodsy spice, cedar, and tobacco. There’s incredible mushroomy, forest floor depths here, rounded out by barely-there floral tones. On the palate, it’s surprisingly well-structured, fine-grained tannin and juicy acidity making evident just why it’s aged so gracefully. We dare say there may even be a few more years left in the tank. But it’s an absolute showstopper right now, and good luck not indulging whenever you can!

2005 Fort Ross Vineyards, Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir

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