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Reviews – Pinot Noir

  • MacRostie on Forbes.com

    Forbes

    August 27, 2021

    by Tom Hyland

    “Must-Try Chardonnay And Pinot Noir From Three Artisan California Wineries”

    “There are hundreds of wine producers in California that excel at producing wines with an artisan approach. Crafting small lots of wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two Burgundian varietals that at their best are made to display not only ideal balance and true character that represent their particular varietal, but also offer a sense of place, wines that reveal the identity of where the grapes are grown.

    In this article, I will focus on three producers in northern California that brilliantly capture their specific area’s character and personality regarding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

    ThalesVineyard2014

    Thales Vineyard, Russian River Valley, source of Pinot Noir for one the best wines from MacRostie Vineyard and Winery.

    MacRostie Vineyard and Winery, Sonoma County

    Founded by Steve MacRostie in 1987, this has been one of the shining stars in the Carneros Sonoma area, especially with Chardonnay. Pinot Noir, with much of the fruit sourced from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, has become equally important for the winery, which recently moved its location from Carneros to a state-of-the-art facility on Westside Road in Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley. While Steve Macrostie was the original winemaker, he turned these duties over to the effervescent Heidi Bridenhagen in 2013; she had served as assistant winemaker there since 2011. Her style is one that showcases bright varietal fruit with a notable sense of origin; the wines always display very good acidity and are elegantly styled.

    Note that all of the Macrostie Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as all of their other wines) are bottled with screw caps, which the proprietors believe preserve the wines’ freshness and purity.

    2019 MacRostie Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay – 95 Points

    Brilliant light yellow; aromas of golden apple, spiced pear and goldenrod. Medium-full, this has excellent ripeness, very good acidity, and a delicate creamy, lush feel, all the while coming across as very delicate on the palate. This has beautiful finesse along with exquisite balance, and will be especially appealing to Chardonnay lovers who tire of excessive wood notes in their wines. A marvelous success that can be enjoyed tonight with lemon sole or halibut, or put away for three to five years.

    2018 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 92 Points

    An estate vineyard of MacRostie since 2013, this site was named for Steve’s wife Thale. Beautiful delicate garnet; aromas of bing cherry, pink roses and carnations, this is a delicious Pinot Noir with very good acidity, impressive varietal purity, medium-bodied tannins, nicely integrated notes and a lengthy, supple finish with delicate notes of black spice. Pair this with roast chicken tonight or lay away for another five to seven years.

    2018 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir – 91 Points

    Beautiful delicate garnet (almost pink); aromas of bing and black cherry, pomegranate and chrysanthemum. Medium-full, this has ripe fruit character, very good acidity, earthy notes in the finish and rich tannins. Give this a few years to settle down, as it will improve for another five to seven years. If you want to pair this with food tonight, serve it with cornish hen.

    2019 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay – 91 Points

    Light yellow; aromas of guava, melon and saffron. Medium-full, this is quite rich on the palate and displays more intense wood notes and power than the Heintz Chardonnay. This is more in the style of many California Chardonnays from the 1980s and 1990s and needs to be paired with very rich seafood (lobster, swordfish) or meats such as roast veal. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years.”

  • MacRostie on Red Wine Breakfast

    August 6, 2021

    Hayley Hamilton Cogill

    “Wine of the Day: 2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir”

    “From cool-climate Petaluma Gap, nestled in the volcanic soils of Wildcat Mountain within Sonoma Coast, MacRostie Winery & Vineyards crafts rustic, intense Pinot Noir filled with character. Planted in 1998 by founder Steve MacRostie knowing the combination of the coastal influence from the Pacific, and the iron-rich volcanic soils would meld to create wines with structure, complexity, and quality.

    MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir elegantly embodies all three, delivering a wine with texture, richness, and power. On the open, aromas of boysenberry and blackberry meld with wild sagebrush, star anise, and violets, leading to a dense palate of licorice, wild berries, black cherry pie, and bitter chocolate. A beautiful wine that can handle a rich pairing of braised or slow-roasted beef or wild boar ragu, but also easy enough to enjoy with roasted chicken, Mexican food, or a mushroom-filled pasta.”

  • Great Values in Red Wines

    Fort Bend Focus Magazine
    December 2020
    by Denman Moody

    “Whereas chilled white wines are ‘de riguer’ in warm weather, red wines take front stage in cold weather. After tasting around 200 red wines in the last months, here is the cream of the crop.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    “Lush texture and bright fruit-distinctive at $55.”

  • MacRostie: 2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    Capture Magazine
    October 2020

    MacRostie Winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen joined MacRostie in 2011 and became just the third winemaker in the winery’s history in 2013. MacRostie’s vineyard program has evolved to include some of the Sonoma Coast’s great­est vineyards. With an approach that marries meticulous attention to detail with a love of experimentation, she is continually finding ways to make MacRostie’s wines better and better. ‘I love making our Sonoma Coast wines. With our single-vineyard wines, it’s about capturing what makes each vineyard so special-in a way it’s more hands-off. With our Sonoma Coast wines. I get to play. I’m constantly refining my sourcing strategy, the percentage of fruit from different sub-appellations, the clonal mix, our barrel program and my approach to blending. If there is a secret to the success of these wines, it is that we treat every lot like it will become a vineyard-designate wine, even though we may know it will become a part of our Sonoma Coast bottling.” 

    The 2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir comes from equally illustrious vineyards, including grapes from MacRostie’s own Thale’s Estate Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley, Dale Ricci’s Vineyard in Carneros, Noble Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, and Wohler Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. ‘We make most of our Pinot in small 1-ton fermenters, and we’ll do upwards of 60 or 70 fermentations. so when it is time to blend there is so much possibility.’

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    Wine Enthusiast

    February/March 2021
    By Virginie Boone 

       

    2018 MacRostie Mirabelle Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Effusively bright and high-toned, this wine offers a demure imprint of oak on the nose. It then evolves to show complex contrasts of ginger, Meyer lemon and jasmine—an effectively cohesive, harmonious and lengthy expression of understated fruit.”

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Crisp apple, Meyer lemon and tangerine flavors make for a fresh, fruity experience on the medium-bodied palate, while the wine shows balance and elegance throughout. Floral apple blossom and jasmine add to the liveliness and appeal.”

    2018 MacRostie Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Slatey, earthy and salty, this vineyard-designate shows a wealth of hearty stone-fruit flavor. Robust and rounded, it has a flourish of floral aromas that complement the fruit well, finishing in a fresh hit of acidity.

    2018 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay Carneros – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Crisp and earthy, with a rocky mineral component that adds grip and grit, this is a high-toned white, with effusive floral aromas and a depth of fruity flavor. Gravenstein apple pear and Meyer lemon characteristics are seasoned in a lengthy dash of nutmeg.”

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Reductive in thick, dark fruit—a mélange of concentrated cherry and plum—this wine has supple texture and elongated tannins. The oak is well integrated and provides additional highlights of vanilla and baking spice.”

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    Wine Enthusiast

    December 2020
    By Virginie Boone 

    2018 MacRostie Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Grippy, layered and textured, this impressive wine is elegantly lean and balanced, with contrasting notions of blood orange, cranberry and forest floor. It impresses in its enduring acidity and bold structure.” 

    2018 MacRostie Nunes Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Thick and savory forest and tea elements combine effortlessly with crunchy fruit flavors of cranberry and orange in this light-bodied, elegant vineyard-designate. The concentration gives way to a silky smoothness that rides along the lengthy finish.” 

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Rich in cola and vanilla flavors that accent the core of strawberry, rhubarb and orange peel, this wine is cohesive and integrated. Silky and creamy on the palate, it builds tannin weight over time, finishing in a balance of black tea.” 

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Hearty and full bodied in style, this wine is nonetheless high toned in edgy acidity and cool climate vibes, giving a balanced perspective of brightness within its power. Rhubarb, raspberry and forest notes dominate along a silky smooth texture of layered tannin and oak.” 

    2018 MacRostie Putnam Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Robust tannins wrap around a core of forest floor, black tea and savory, edgy intrigue in this coastal wine. High-toned acidity buzzes along a focused palate of wild strawberry, cranberry and rhubarb.” 

  • “Alphabetical Guide to California Pinot Noir”

    Wine Spectator

    October 15
    By Kim Marcus

    “These wines were tasted for Kim Marcus’ California Pinot Noir tasting report in the Oct. 15, 2020, issue of Wine Spectator magazine. For a full analysis of the latest vintages and top wines and top values charts, read ‘Cascade Effect.’ More than 600 wines were reviewed for this report. WineSpectator.com members can find all reviews, with full tasting notes, in the Wine Ratings Search.”

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview – 92 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Cummings Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 87 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

  • Cascade Effect

    Wine Spectator

    October 15
    By Kim Marcus

    “Pinot Noir continues its expansion across the Golden State, with rising quality and increased production driven by a surge of single-vineyard wines flowing from key winegrowing regions up and down the California coast, where the cooler, maritime-influenced climate proves ideal for the grape’s cultivation.

    This past year has been a banner tasting season as I reviewed more than 600 wines since my previous report (“Coastal Conquest,” Oct. 15, 2019), with the vast majority of the action centered on the 2017 and 2018 vintages. Overall, more than 375 wines reached 90 points or higher, making for a remarkably high level of quality, with three dozen wines scoring in the 94- to 95-point range.

    Perhaps even more impressive is the diversity of the appellations where Pinot Noir excels. Classic-rated wines are being made all the way from Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, one of the state’s northernmost appellations, to Santa Barbara’s Sta. Rita Hills, 400 miles to the south. In between, districts in Sonoma, Napa and Monterey also chime in with stellar wines.


    In Sonoma’s historic heartland of Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley, stalwart producers such as Arista, Dehlinger, Ferren, Hartford Court, Paul Hobbs and Williams-Selyem continue to prime the quality pump with both single-vineyard bottlings and appellation blends. Indeed, the high quality of many appellation blends make them a good buying strategy if you are looking for value. These versions tap multiple vineyard sources within an appellation and are made in significantly higher quantities. They offer solid varietal flavors and structure, with just a bit less concentration and finesse compared with single-vineyard offerings.

    From the Russian River Valley, look for the EnRoute Les Pommiers 2018 (93, $60), MacMurray Ranch 2017 (92, $38) and Sojourn 2018 (92, $45). From the Sonoma Coast, there’s the 2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (91, $34), RouteStock 116 2018 (91, $23), Au Contraire 2017 (90, $27), La Crema 2017 (90, $25) and Sean Minor 2018 (90, $22). And from Carneros, seek out the Artesa 2017 (91, $25) and Acacia 2017 (90, $27).”

  • “Premium Pinot, Summer Cocktails, Tools… And Virtual Vacations”

    PG Rated

    August 24, 2020
    By Peter Gianotti

    “The focus here is on some remarkable Californians from the 2017 vintage. They range from the light-and medium-bodied to full. At all price points, they’re worth the investment.

    The 2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, plummy and intricate, makes no demands and arrives with ripe fruit flavor.”

  • Wine Advocate – California, Sonoma County

    Wine Advocate

    By Erin Brooks
    August 13, 2020

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – 91 Points: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines

    “The 2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay has leesy Bosc pears and white peaches with notes of gunflint and honey-nut notions. It’s light to medium-bodied with a good core of peachy fruit, bright freshness and a long, clean finish. 992 cases produced.”

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 90 Points: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines

    “Pale ruby, the 2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir offers blackberries, cranberries and rhubarb with notes of woodsmoke, black tea leaves and earth. The palate is light-bodied, soft and juicy with a good core of fruit and a satisfying finish. 4,181 cases produced.”

    “USA, California: Sonoma County 2018 Vintage” 

    “2018 in Sonoma has been hailed as a spectacular vintage, and for many top wineries it is. But this is not a great vintage across the board—if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. The 2018 vintage carried the potential for near-perfect wines, but it also carried the potential for mediocrity. The 2018 vintage provided, undisputedly, the opportunity to make world-class wines. It was also replete with hidden dangers—both natural and manmade—that resulted in more than a few washed out, dilute, flavorless wines, from unfamiliar and familiar names alike.

    2018: The Good News 

    2018 was an unusually long, cool growing season, and there are many gorgeous wines to choose from. Regional character is clear across appellations, particularly for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There were no heat events to stunt growth or erase regional character, and both varieties are pure and precise in this vintage. The extended growing season allowed for winemakers to harvest at leisure, and many properties expertly captured a perfect picture of ripeness. Cooler nights maintained very bright acidity across varieties, and in general, the best wines of 2018 are lifted, layered, energetic and dynamic, with incredible movement and texture in the mouth. The best Chardonnays are silky, with precise and mineral entries, broad and layered mid-palates and long, linear finishes. Pinot Noirs are incredibly pure and nuanced, with high-toned, ethereal aromatics, replete with the layers of fruit, earth, spice and bitterness that make for the best examples of this grape. Later-ripening varieties show very finely grained tannic structures and Goldilocks ripeness rather than simple fruit or power. The best 2018s are tight right now but will age very well in bottle, as cooler nights resulted in incredibly vibrant acidity across varieties, and the best wines have plenty of fruit to carry the wines in the cellar. With time in bottle, the best 2018s will gain nuance and depth.

    A Bumper Crop of Unripe Grapes  

    For the last several years, California has led the charge of the ‘new normal’ with a string of very warm, very dry years. To set the stage for 2018, it’s important to understand the past several years in California. Beginning in 2012, growers faced increasing challenges with drought and extreme heat events, capped by the devastating Labor Day heat wave of 2017. Readers will recall that temperatures reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas, and that the extreme heat lasted for several days. To top things off, early October brought wildfires that ripped through Sonoma, destroying vineyards and bringing the issue of smoke taint to the forefront. Mother Nature did ease some suffering with the arrival of heavy rains during the winter of 2017/2018, officially ending the years’ long drought. Many parts of Sonoma also experienced rainstorms in late spring, adding to mildew pressure. 

    After the late spring rains, the season returned to normal, and fruit set was perfect across the region. At veraison, growers began to notice large crop loads—by all accounts, 2018 was a massive bumper crop, as ample winter and spring rain plus perfect fruit set combined to result in incredible vine vigor and up to seven or eight tons per acre of fruit in some cases. Most notably, there was not an increase in the number of clusters but rather unexpected increases in berry size that crept up after veraison and the first thinning passes. Berries continued to swell up in size during the season, distorting the picture revealed by cluster counts at veraison. In many cases, final yields were up over 30% from what was predicted at lag phase. 

    Six years of drought taught winemakers and growers in California to hold their breath for the inevitable heat waves in August and over Labor Day weekend, but they never came. Instead, it cooled considerably. Many growers reported steady temperatures in the 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit) for the remainder of the season. Nights were especially chilly, and fierce wind on the Sonoma Coast slowed ripening. All across Sonoma County, vines loaded with crop in anticipation of a warm year struggled to ripen. Viticulture is always a gamble, and cooler vintages present a different set of challenges. A polar opposite vintage from 2017 and the first cool vintage in six years surely caught people off guard: growing degree days in 2017 far surpass those accumulated in 2018. Donum winemaker Dan Fishman says, ‘2018 was a little bit like 2012—if you weren’t paying attention, it could turn mediocre because there was nothing to force your hand. A vintage like that can lead to a lot of okay wines.’

    Controlling yields was critical for success in 2018. ‘The big news this year was the crop size, following the end of the drought,’ Paul Hobbs said. ‘We had tremendous rain, and the vines were ready to go. They were in hyper-fertile productive mode. On average, we dropped at least a year’s worth of fruit on the ground, and we still went over yield by 5% to 10%. That’s essentially saying we had two vintages in one in 2018, if we had harvested all the fruit. We couldn’t believe the berry and cluster weights we were seeing. We did four yield thinnings, so it was a horribly expensive year for us, because of all those passes.’ Some winemakers opted out of late-season thinnings, feeling it was too little, too late. This may have been true in some instances, but in general, the best wines in 2018 are from properties that kept a tight watch on their vineyards and continually adjusted crop load to the cooler season. Those who did little or no thinning at all were left with a bumper crop of unripe grapes, and there were still grapes hanging on vines as I drove around the valley in late October and early November. ‘People didn’t thin,’ says Hobbs. ‘It blew my mind. We thinned to the point where the ground was literally covered in grapes, but no one around us was doing that.’ Kistler winemaker Jason Kesner agrees that controlling yields was critical for quality in 2018. ‘I remember looking at other vineyards that are normally picked a week or two after ours that still had fruit on the vine three weeks later. You can only ask so much of a grapevine. There is something about setting vine balance early in the year so your vines can do all the work on their own. Crop load is the biggest factor for dilute wines in 2018—if people are honest about how much tonnage they brought in!’

    Economic and logistical factors also played a role in quality potential. The heavy crop load in 2018 was a relief for many who had lost significant portions of their production in 2017. Expecting a warm year, it would be tempting to hang some extra crop—winemakers need inventory and growers need to get paid. A big crop also results in a myriad of logistical problems in the winery: not enough tanks for fermenting, not enough space for storage, not enough barrels for aging, etc. Labor has been scarce in recent years, and finding enough labor for such a large harvest was also a challenge. Romantic as winemaking is from the outside, at the end of the day, it’s a business. Economic and logistical challenges, rather than quality, drove winemaking decisions in many cases this vintage. ‘2018 could have been a logistical nightmare for winemakers,’ notes Kosta Browne winemaker Julien Howsepian. ‘Not enough capacity to take in fruit at the right time, fermenting in any container you can find, etc. That constrains a winemaker’s ability do things in a way they might have anticipated from the onset. It’s almost like the vintage took control of them, even if the fruit was really good. A great vintage doesn’t mean the wines will become great.’

    Keeping yields in check was the biggest factor for potential quality, and many top growers and winemakers reported having to make up to five extra passes through the vineyards throughout the season once it became clear that the crop was much larger than initially anticipated. Not every property can afford to send crews out to make the extra thinning passes critical for success in 2018, and not everyone could round up a crew with the shortage of labor. 

    Heavy yields and well below average summertime temperatures combined this year to produce many washed-out, dilute, hollow and flavorless wines—Burgundian varieties were especially affected. ‘If you’re carrying too much fruit, it shows with dilute, washed out wines,’ says Arista winemaker Matt Courtney. ‘Over-cropping sticks out like a sore thumb with those Burgundian varieties.’ There are plenty of Pinot Noirs that lack color, aroma and flavor. Many Chardonnays are neutral in character and have very tangy acidities without much fruit support. Later-ripening varieties can be quite soft or feel over-extracted and manipulated, as if saignée rather than viticulture was used to concentrate the wines made from unripe grapes. The least successful wines this year are inherently boring and will not age, despite their high acidities—there’s just no fruit to carry them forward.

    Noteworthy Producers

    Some producers made potential ‘career’ wines in 2018, and the lineup of wines from Kistler and Dumol are the best I have ever tasted. Although I have only tried one 2018 from Occidental, I suspect Steve Kistler’s 2018s will be some of the most exciting of the vintage, due to their unique character and terroir expression—these are detailed, pure, crystalline Pinot Noirs. There are some incredibly promising wines from Jesse Katz’s Aperture—the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley is very compelling. Hirsch excelled in this cooler vintage, and the wines are crystalline, pure and singular in character. As always, Paul Hobbs has crafted a gorgeous lineup of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that continued to improve after four or five days of being open. 

  • 2018 MacRostie Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley – 92 Points

    JebDunnuck.com

    by Jeb Dunnuck
    August 4, 2020

    2018 MacRostie Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley – 92 Points: Outstanding wines. These wines are outstanding for their type and are worth the extra effort to seeking out.

    “All destemmed and brought up in 46% new French oak, the 2018 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard has a pure, almost pretty, medium-bodied style that highlights its strawberry and raspberry fruit over the classic marine-influence of this site. Showing more floral and spice notes with time in the glass, it’s nicely balanced, has ripe, polished tannins and terrific balance, and should continue drinking nicely for 7-8 years.” 

    “The 2018s from Santa Barbara County” 

    “This report focuses on the 2018s from Santa Barbara County, but also includes a handful of late release 2017s (and even some 2016s) as well as a few wines from additional regions in California. Many producers in Santa Barbara County make wines from other areas of California, and I’m able to taste those wines during this trip. Rather than saving those reviews for a later report, I’ve opted to publish them sooner rather than later.

    The 2018 Vintage

    Throughout California, the 2018 vintage was a long, cooler, and even growing season that presented few challenges. The year got off to a cool start, followed by plenty of early season heat in July, then a colder than average ripening period in August, September, and October. Harvest was the latest since 2011. The grapes had loads of hang time, and the critical ripening period occurred under cooler temperatures. Yields were slightly up over 2017 and close to average, and growers had easy harvest decisions with no heat spikes or rain events.

    I loved tasting through these wines. The style isn’t far off the 2016s (with maybe a splash of 2010), with the wines showing beautiful purity of fruit as well as ripe tannins, good concentration, and solid underlying structure. Alcohol levels are down over 2017 and acid levels are up, yet the wines have terrific depth of fruit as well as supple, elegant textures. The cooler ripening period also resulted in terrific aromatics, and these are fresh, lively wines across the board. The wines don’t have the same level of sunny, sexy fruit found in the 2017s (and to a lesser extent, the 2016s), but they still have plenty of opulence and texture. In addition, the wines show classic characteristics and regional and site-specific characters.

    From a consumer standpoint, this is an easy vintage to understand, and quality is both high and consistent. You can’t go wrong with the 2018s, and the vintage is unquestionably in the list of top vintages for the region, including 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. There are gorgeous Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Santa Maria and the Sta. Rita Hills, loads of Rhône blends and Syrahs from Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, and Santa Ynez, and more and more, incredibly high-quality Bordeaux blends from Santa Ynez and the Happy Canyon region of Santa Barbara County.

    Looking ahead at the 2019s, this was another cool year that has plenty of similarities to 2018, if not even a touch more freshness and acidity. I’ll taste these in-depth next year, but certainly, this will be another strong vintage for all of the Central Coast.

    The Wines

    While I was forced to cancel all my oversea trips due to COVID-19, I was able to drive to the Central Coast late in June of 2019 and do large AVA tastings as well as a handful of visits, which I tried to keep to a minimum. I hope you enjoy these wines as much as I enjoyed tasting through them and writing the report!”

  • 2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    Wine Spectator

    by Kim Marcus
    May 31, 2020

    “Very crisp, with leafy accents to the dried red fruit and spice flavors. Hints of cinnamon emerge midpalate, revealing a finish that lingers with cocoa powder accents. Drink now through 2023.”

    2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Wine Review Online

    by Rich Cook
    July 21, 2020

    “This Russian River Pinot Noir finds a tasty balance between rich berry fruit and tannic black tea on the palate, the tea notes holding the fruit in tension in a silky texture. The tea notes are still folding in, and as they soften this will gain elegance. Another beautifully structured wine from MacRostie.”

    ·As a result of submitting samples, Kim Marcus recommended the 2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (90 Points) in Wine Spectator (circulation: 397,253). He described the wine as “very crisp.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points

  • Wine Spectator names Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir as one of ‘9 Knockout California Pinot Noirs at 90+ Points’

    Wine Spectator

    by Aaron Romano
    July 27, 2020

    This week, we explore outstanding wines from some of the top Pinot Noir top regions in California. From Sonoma’s Russian River Valley to Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands to Santa Barbara’s windswept Sta. Rita Hills, each of these Pinots displays the unique style of the region and techniques that produced it.

    Pinot lovers will recognize several veterans on this list, including La Crema, MacRostie and Siduri. But one winery not previously known for Pinot Noir is Chappellet. This Napa-based Cabernet titan has recently expanded into Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from select vineyards in Carneros and Sonoma. Its Dutton Ranch bottling shows crunchy red fruit and berry flavors, with mineral and Asian spice notes on the finish.

    Bravium was founded in 2007 by winemaker Derek Rohlffs. His Anderson Valley bottling pulls grapes from two vineyards, Wiley and Valley Foothills. The former sits on a ridge above the fog line, near the Pacific; the latter occupies south-facing slopes in the center of the valley. This combination yields a svelte style with cherry tart and juicy dark currant flavors. And if you’re seeking a widely available, wallet-friendly pick, look to the lively Acacia Carneros Pinot, which overdelivers at 90 points and $27.”

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    “Light and refined, with concentrated dried red cherry and berry flavors supported by fresh acidity. Underbrush and dried herbal notes on the finish.” – Kim Marcus

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Wine Review Online

    by Rich Cook
    July 21, 2020

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – “This Russian River Pinot Noir finds a tasty balance between rich berry fruit and tannic black tea on the palate, the tea notes holding the fruit in tension in a silky texture. The tea notes are still folding in, and as they soften this will gain elegance. Another beautifully structured wine from MacRostie.”

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    The Press Democrat 

    by Peg Melnik
    May 20, 2020

    “Tasty Alternatives” 

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – ★★★★: Highly recommended

    “An earthy pinot with depth of flavor. Notes of blueberry, toast and a hint of mushroom. Full-bodied and balanced. Lovely.”

  • “New Releases From California And Oregon – MacRostie, Far Niente, Abbot’s Passage, And Argyle”

    “This winery in Carneros Sonoma was founded in 1987 by Steve MacRostie, one of the early proponents of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Sonoma County. The winery today offers numerous examples of these two varietals from single vineyards located in several AVA in Sonoma, such as Russian River Valley. Petaluma Gap and Sonoma Coast, as well as other regions in California. Heidi Bridenhagen is the winemaker, and is involved with MacRostie in finding the best vineyards from which they can source outstanding fruit each season.

    FORBES.com
    by Tom Hyland
    May 27, 2020

    2019 MacRostie Pinot Noir Rosé – Excellent

    Deep orange/coral hue; aromas of orange jelly and watermelon. Medium-bodied, this has impressive texture and a dry finish with notable persistence. I love the complexity and character of this rosé! Enjoy over the next two years. 

    2018 MacRostie Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay – Very Good

    Light yellow; aromas of vanilla, golden apples, mango and pineapple. Medium-full, with good concentration, this offers good freshness and pleasant tropical fruit, but lacks complexity. Good acidity, moderate wood notes. Enjoy over the next 2-3 years. 

    2018 MacRostie Mirabelle Vineyard Chardonnay – Outstanding

    Bright, light yellow; inviting aromas of lemon zest, red apples, and saffron with a subtle note of honey. Medium-full with very good concentration. Lengthy finish, very good acidity, excellent varietal purity, impressive complexity and balance. The wood notes are nicely integrated and the overall wine is very appealing and delicious. Lengthy finish with subtle notes of almond in the finish. Enjoy over the next 3-5 years. 

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir – Very Good

    Delicate garnet; red cherry, strawberry, beet, delicate wood. Medium-full with very good concentration. Subdued style, nicely balanced, but I’d prefer a bit more fruit definition. 3-5 years. 

    2017 MacRostie Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir – Excellent

    Delicate garnet; cola, bing cherry, marjoram. Medium-full, impressive complexity, medium-weight tannins, excellent persistence, good acidity and a nice sense of finesse. Enjoy over the next 5-7 years.”

    Download MacRostie Reviews

  • 2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    The Press Democrat 

    by Peg Melnik
    May 19, 2020

    “Tasty Alternatives” 

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – ★★★★: Highly recommended

    “An earthy pinot with depth of flavor. Notes of blueberry, toast and a hint of mushroom. Full-bodied and balanced. Lovely.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

  • Sonoma: Another Brilliant Vintage in 2018

    Seven outstanding wines. These wines are outstanding for their type and are worth the extra effort to seeking out.

    by Jeb Dunnuck
    May 2020

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 93 Points

    “More complex notes of mulberries, black raspberries, forest floor, bouquet garni, and spice emerge from the 2018 Pinot Noir Wildcat Mountain. Beautifully textured and medium-bodied, with a great mid-palate and silky tannins, it’s unquestionably an outstanding effort and should easily drink well for 4-6 years or more.”        

    2018 MacRostie Kent Ritchie Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 92 Points

    “From a site in the Russian River and aged in 25% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Kent Ritchie offers lots of toasty and spicy notes as well as orchard fruits, medium body, a pure, clean, soft style, good acidity, and a clean finish. It’s another impeccably made Chardonnay that delivers the goods.”     

    2018 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Chardonnay Sonoma Coast – 92 Points

    “Brought up in 24% new French oak, the 2018 Chardonnay Wildcat Mountain is another terrific effort. White flowers, toasted spice, peach, and honeysuckle notes all dominate the nose, and it’s fresh and lively, yet also textured and lengthy on the palate.”

    2018 MacRostie Bacigalupi Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 91 Points

    “Last of the Chardonnay, the 2018 Chardonnay Bacigalupi comes from a site on the Russian River Valley and was raised in 22% new French oak. White currants, apple blossom, spice box, and honeyed toast characteristics give way to a soft, juicy, balanced beauty that has good acidity and a clean, elegant style ideal for drinking over the coming 4-5 years.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 91 Points

    “The translucent ruby-hued 2017 Pinot Noir Thale’s Vineyard was completely destemmed and spent 10 months in 40% new French oak. Coming from a site in the Russian River Valley, it’s made in a more elegant style yet still brings the Russian River fruit profile with lots of cherry and mulled strawberry notes as well as medium body, a core of sweet fruit, and a great finish. It’s another balanced, charming, incredibly delicious Pinot Noir from this estate. Drink it over the coming 3-5 years.”

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 91 Points

    “The most expensive release in the lineup, the 2017 Pinot Noir The Loch comes from a site on the Sonoma Coast and was brought up in 40% new French oak, with the balance in once- and twice-used oak. It has a touch more oak yet packs plenty of light cherry and strawberry fruit, subtle spice, medium to full body, a great mid-palate, ripe tannins, and a good finish. I don’t find it considerably better than the other releases here, but it’s still a terrific wine.”

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 90 Points

    “The 2018 Chardonnay Russian River Valley is in the same ballpark, with beautiful purity of fruit (orchard fruits, white flowers), medium-bodied richness and depth, good acidity, and terrific overall balance. Both of these two appellation blends are terrific wines well worth seeking out.”

    Download MacRostie Reviews

  • Restaurant Wine Review of MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

    Restaurant Wine 

    by Ronn Wiegand
    February 2020

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 4 Stars: Excellent quality for its type, style, and price. Among the very best of its type for its price. Highly recommended

    “Screw cap. Excellent: supple and finely flavored, this Pinot Noir is a crisp, balanced wine, with rose petal, cherry, red currant, black tea, and oak aromas/flavors, and a long finish. Shows a bit of tannin; can develop further. Fine value.”

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 3+ Stars: Very good quality for its type, style, and price. Has distinctive character and positive attributes. Recommended

    “Screw cap. A full bodied, crisp Sonoma Coast Chardonnay of very good quality. It is round, delicately flavored (pineapple, white peach, lime, toast, roasted nut), balanced, and lingering on the finish. Very good value; will develop with modest aging.”

    Download Pinot Noir Review

    Download Chardonnay Review

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    by Virginie Boone
    May 2020

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “From a high-elevation coastal site, this wine is dazzling in juicy red fruit, gentle spice and a great length and breadth of textured intensity. Toasted oak adds more spice and a note of dark chocolate, which combines well with the rich, rewarding core of berry.”

    2017 MacRostie Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “This lovely, balanced wine from the great site is nuanced in rose, lavender and dark cherry-strawberry richness, the palate juicy and supple with generous tension and texture. Spicy forest and black tea mingle with ease amongst the core of fruit, the finish lengthy and graceful.”

    2017 MacRostie Olivet Lane Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “This is a light, ethereal take on the variety, savory in forested earth, black tea and crispy red fruit. Made in a restrained, elegant style, it sings in acidity and energy, and has a subtle dusting of white pepper that is immensely complex.”

    2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “From the famous Petaluma Gap site, this light-bodied, elegant wine is fresh and rich in baked strawberry, forest and dried herb. Lengthy in savory spice and black tea, it has structure to spare, with firm, supple tannin and integrated oak.”

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94 Points: Superb; a great achievement

    “With a delicate floral nose met by cherry spice, this is a sumptuous and lovely red wine, fully lush in strawberry and black cherry. French oak wraps around the fruit effortlessly adding nuances of vanilla and baking spice.”

    2017 MacRostie Cumming’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Juicy strawberry, black tea and turned earth open into a midpalate of light, bright acidity, with a meaty underbelly of richness in this wine, sourced from a vineyard in the Santa Rosa Plains and farmed by Charlie Chenoweth. The finish hints of orange peel and cardamom.”

    2017 MacRostie Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Tangy, edgy acidity underlies the buzzing core of this structured, high-toned wine from the new appellation. Stony mineral and crisp, crunchy red fruit defines its medium-bodied frame of complex tannin integration and graceful finish.”

    2017 MacRostie The Key Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This is a master blend from the best barrels of the vintage from many of the best single vineyards, which showcases exotic quince, Asian pear and fig. Bright, fresh notions of tangerine emphasize the inherent acidity, with a rich creamy midpalate along the way.”

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Floral, silky and succulent, this is a robust, full-bodied wine, expressive in blueberries and red-berry fruit. Dry tannins wrap around ripe layers of richness and texture and are seasoned lightly in dried herb and baking spice.”

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Tangy citrus is further boosted by tart, sharp acidity in this intensely full-bodied, ripe and boldly textured wine. The barrel imprint is strong, adding to the weight and breadth of the wine, which finishes in earth and black pepper.”

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Creamy red fruit is complemented in a light, buzzy earthiness of tree bark, dried herb and mineral in this textured midweight wine. The appellation is well represented, the wine quietly rich in dark cherry, pomegranate and cola.”

    2016 Clockwise Napa Valley Red Wine – 88 Points: Very good; often good value; well recommended 

    “This blend of a majority Cabernet Sauvignon with sizable additions of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec delivers simple fruitiness and dark layers of spice. Supple and approachable, it broods in blackberry, clove and earth.”

  • 2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Wine Review Online 

    by Marguerite Thomas
    March 31, 2020

    “The grapes for this elegant wine come from the northern end of California’s Russian River Valley. You might savor it even more knowing that a scant 40 cases of the wine have been produced. This palate pleaser rests as light as silk in the mouth, offering bright berry nuances along with gentle hints of spice, cocoa and vanilla, while gentle and inviting acidity makes for a nice finish.”

    2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

    Download Review

  • 2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 93 Points

    Boozehoundz

    by Michael Cervin
    March 25, 2020

    “A tinkerer at heart, Steve MacRostie was drafted in the U.S. Army as a cryptographer. That means attention to detail and Steve’s wines, which I have reviewed for over a decade, all have the imprint of his attention to detail all over them. His 2017 RRV Chard offers upfront notes of muted lemon verbena and lime kefir, with mid-palate notes of guava, light honeysuckle, white peach, and pear, and back notes of browned butter along with a mild acidity. The wine went through a partial malolactic fermentation, then was aged for a scant 10 months in both new and used French oak, but that accounted for only 38% of an impact on the wine, therefore it’s not overbearing. The result is a playful, balanced (between oak and fruit) wine that is elegant, usable with a variety of foods, or just to enjoy as a classic Russian River Chardonnay.”

    Read Full Article

  • Year’s Best Pinot Noirs

    Wine & Spirits

    by Josh Greene
    April 2020

    2017 MacRostie Donnelly Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “Catch this wine now for its pretty scent of roses and its gentle, peppery grip. It’s the color of a red rose petal and just about as delicate, with muddled-cherry flavors in the middle, ending clean and refreshing. Pour it with pan-roasted salmon and wild mushrooms.”

    2017 MacRostie Manzana Vineyard Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “This is a tense, floral pinot noir, with a cool jasmine note over its formal oak structure. While half of the lot aged in new French oak barrels, the herbal fruit is framed by wood notes but not diminished. From a vineyard farmed by the Dutton family, this is a sophisticated pinot with lasting flavors.”

    2017 MacRostie Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “The winds of the Petaluma Gap left their mark in the potent grape-skin tannins of this wine. It grows on a west-facing hillside in rocky, volcanic soils, taking on spicy green-peppercorn scents and dark cherry flavors. Grippy and bold, this is a wine for pasta with rabbit sausage and wild mushrooms.”

    Download Donnelly Creek Review

    Download Manzana Review

    Download Rodgers Creek Review

  • Sonoma Coast Wineries Need Your Love Now More Than Ever

    Here are 29 excellent bottles of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to look for.

    Food & Wine

    by Brian Freedman
    March 18, 2020

    “Despite the way that wineries are often portrayed in the movies, many of them are small family businesses that exist just a single bad harvest or ill-timed hail storm away from financial disaster. As restaurants close and in-person tastings have been greatly diminished, this is a good time to support your favorite wineries by stocking up on their bottles. The pandemic is impacting businesses across the entire swath of the economy, and wine producers are no different. Stocking your cellar is arguably the best way to support them right now, and it has the ancillary effect of making these strange, terrifying days seem a little less fraught. Wine has always been a source of sunshine in dark times, and we could all use that now more than ever.

    Sonoma Coast has become one of the most popular, important sources of Pinot Noir in the United States. Due to its large size, however, and the range of sub-AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, within it, you can’t discuss Sonoma Coast in terms of any sort of consistent style.

    Andy Peay, one of the legends of Sonoma Pinot who has been at the forefront of the movement for the West Sonoma Coast to gain AVA status, says that painting the entire Sonoma Coast AVA with a broad brush is just as inaccurate as saying that you do or don’t like all California wines.

    ‘I’m in the very northwest corner of the West Sonoma Coast,’ he told me. ‘We don’t get out of the low-70s at the hottest time of the day in July or August.’ Fog from the Pacific Ocean comes through the Petaluma Gap, and while it warms up during the day, it gets a lot warmer in Russian River Valley and inland because the fog burns off, he said. Those differences throughout Sonoma Coast, and from pocket to pocket, can be felt and tasted in the wines.

    ‘The term ‘Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir’ means nothing and everything at the same time, simply because there is so much diversity in the region as far as microclimates and soil types,’ said Vanessa Wong, the owner of Fishtown Social, a wine bar in Philadelphia.

    The wines are, in general, absolutely delicious, and the overall quality is very impressive across the board. Below are 29 wines from throughout Sonoma Coast worth looking out for. They come from boutique producers and famously large ones, and run the gamut in terms of price and the number of bottles that were made. Some are more lean and mineral in character and others are riper and more generous. What they lack in consistent style, however, they more than make up for in exemplifying why the diversity of Sonoma Coast and the ambition and vision of its top producers are so outrageously exciting right now.

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview

    High-toned and aromatic lifted. On the palate, a chocolate and caramel core anchors the generous red and black cherries, kirsch, and rosemary. Perfect with pulled pork.”

    Download Article

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    Wine Enthusiast Magazine

    by Virginie Boone
    April 2020

    2016 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – 93 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “From an estate vineyard, this robust red offers waxy plum, dark cherry and stemmy earthiness, a mix of forest and floral that works against its integrated oak and tannin. Baking spice and cardamom season the richness of the fruit, allowing for a crispness on the finish.”

    2017 MacRostie Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay – 92 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This wine is rich and intensely citrus-driven, with robust oak and concentration. Balanced acidity helps contrast against the generous tropical fruit, crème brûlée and baking spice, allowing for a crisp finish.”

    2017 MacRostie Champlin Creek Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Rich, round and tropical in nature, this medium-bodied wine is also citrusy in tangerine. Fleshy, full bodied and abundant, it has a long finish of baked apple and nutmeg.”

    2017 MacRostie Dutton Ranch Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Juicy, soft, rounded and rich, this memorable wine is ample and opulent in pear, Gravenstein apple and vanilla, with a racy tease of tropical mango and pineapple. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced and food-friendly within its hearty oak and ripeness.”

    2017 MacRostie Kent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay – 91 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “From the historic site planted to older vines, this white is reductive on the nose, developing in the glass to offer juicy layers of pear, pineapple, golden honey and caramel. Made in a rich, full-bodied style, with texture and weight, it finishes heartily in toasted oak.”

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “Thick and grainy in citrusy lemon zest and bright acidity, this appellation wine impresses in its high tones of pleasing jasmine and flinty rock. Green apple and mango star on the midpalate, as a thread of baking spice and toasted oak pierces through.”

    2017 MacRostie Olivet Lane Chardonnay – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “The well-established site in the heart of the appellation contributes dark, brooding flavors of baked apple, spice and oak to this richly layered wine, thick in pineapple and crème brûlée. It lurks in acidity, keeping the palate refreshed.”

    Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide

    by Jim Gordon
    April 2020

    2017 MacRostie Day Ranch Pinot Noir – 90 Points: Excellent; highly recommended

    “This nicely balanced wine shows all the good things about Pinot Noir in a compact, relatively light package. Red-cherry, oak-spice and tea-leaf aromas are followed by tangy cherry and cranberry flavors, energized by good acidity and mild tannins.”

  • The Press Democrat “Wine of the Week”

    The Press Democrat

    by Peg Melnik
    February 18, 2020

    “Wine of the Week”

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    “The Sonoma Coast is full of intrigue for winemakers puzzling together a blend. They’re scouting the rugged terrain for vineyards that deliver something unique.

    But if you’re Heidi Bridenhagen you don’t stop there. The winemaker of Healdsburg’s MacRostie Winery takes grapes streaming in from 30 different vineyards and creates 100 different, 1-ton fermentation lots.

    ‘With these micro fermentations, I’m really trying to tease out all the diversity Sonoma County has to offer,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘It’s really a big blend, but it’s really fun to make.’

    The winemaker of these uber blends is behind our wine of the week winner –– the MacRostie 2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir at $34. This pinot offers generous fruit –– weighted to red flavors like cherry –– and impeccable balance. It has aromas and flavors of Bing cherry with a streak of cranberry, tobacco and cracked black pepper. Crisp acid keeps this fruit-forward pinot in sync. It’s a steal for the quality and complexity of this Sonoma Coast pinot.

    ‘Pinot noir can be very elegant and nuanced, and so trying to capture that and accentuate it and not overpower it, well that’s the challenge,’ Bridenhagen said.

    The geographic reach of these vineyards stretches from the San Pablo Bay to the south to Sea Ranch to the north.

    ‘I really try to take the time to learn what pinot has to offer,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘I explore the vineyards, trying to see what kind of elegance and nuance they have. First and foremost. you need a cool climate to make pinot noir sing. The Sonoma Coast really offers a diverse vineyard portfolio.’

    Bridenhagen, 36, joined MacRostie in 2011 after a stint at Vinwood Cellars, a Geyserville production facility owned by Jackson Family Wines. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006 with a degree in biochemistry and a minor in chemistry.

    ‘I loved the field, and I thought I’d go to medical school or get a job in biotech,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘But after graduation, I took six months to travel all over — western and eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Russian. I was exposed to wine and the culture around it … In college we weren’t wine connoisseurs.’

    After the trip, Bridenhagen moved to the Palo Alto area, and a day trip to Sonoma County changed the trajectory of her life.

    ‘I fell in love with Sonoma County that day,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘The wine itself was very eye-opening, and I loved the culture and lifestyle. So that’s how I became a winemaker.’

    The career, she said, is a good fit, particularly when it comes to producing pinot noir.

    ‘It’s a very delicate grape, and it needs to be handled very intentionally and gently,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘But it’s also what makes it so special.’

    Getting it right, the winemaker said, is very gratifying.

    ‘When you open a bottle that you and your team produced, and when it’s tasting really good, you remember everything that went into making it,’ Bridenhagen said. ‘It’s the ultimate reward at the end of a hard day.’

    This week’s blind tasting

    Top Pick

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – ★★★★★

    This pinot offers complex, generous fruit –– weighted to red –– and impeccable balance. Aromas and flavors of Bing cherry with a streak of cranberry, tobacco and cracked black pepper. Crisp acid keeps this fruit-forward pinot in sync. It’s a steal for the quality of this Sonoma Coast pinot noir.”

    Download Article

  • PINOT NOIR

    2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    93 Points: Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide
    “This is a richly built wine, with flavors of juicy black cherry and baking spice. Citrus-driven acidity offers length to the full-bodied palate.” —Virginie Boone, February 2019

  • PINOT NOIR

    2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    91 Points, Wine Enthusiast, July 2018

  • PINOT NOIR

    2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    90 Points “Best Buy” “Year’s Best Pinot Noirs”, Wine & Spirits
    “A blend from seven vineyards, including Steve MacRostie’s Wildcat Mountain in the Petaluma Gap and four sites in Russian River Valley, this has warm notes of cherry pie and cedary scents of oak. Firm, fine-textured tannins keep the wine savory and spicy. Focused on oak, this should be best in a year or two.” —Josh Greene, December 2017 & April 2018
    Download Accolade

    90 Points, Wine Advocate
    “The 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is pale ruby colored, with warm cherries, red currants, dried herbs and a hint of loam. Medium-bodied and elegant, this is a great expression of Pinot Noir at a modest price, with nice length and fine-grained tannins.” —Lisa PerrottiBrown, March 1, 2017
    Download Accolade

    88 Points, Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide
    “This wine combines fruit from several notable vineyards, including Goldrock Ridge, Thale’s Estate and Wildcat Mountain. Together, they drive a focused expression of smoky dark fruit and tart, moderate acidity. The fruit shows a depth of ripeness that’s intense, with a finish of spicy black tea.” —Virginie Boone, November 2017