Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Two great pinots from Joseph Phelps

By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 2:52 pm in Corkheads.

Freestone Pinot Noir

You know Joseph Phelps Vineyards, which dates back to the 1970s. But do you know about Joe’s Freestone project?

In 1999, Joe purchased 100 acres on the Sonoma Coast near Freestone in the hopes of making world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He and his family planted 80 acres to Pinot Noir, and the rest to Chardonnay — on three separate sites (Freestone, Quarter Moon and Ferguson).

I recently had the pleasure of tasting two Pinot Noirs from these estate vineyards, which are farmed biodynamically.

The 2006 Freestone Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown on the Freestone and Quarter Moon vineyards. Despite nine days of continuous rain, the long growing season in 2006 provided the winery with Pinot Noir stellar grapes: crisp skins, big bouquets and great tannins.

Aged in French oak for 15 months, the wine is silky in the mouth and shows hints of sandalwood and berry tea. I thought it was quite elegant, but not too restrained to stand up to my mushroom pizza. It had just enough acidity and minerality to pair beautifully with earthy flavors.

The other Pinot, Fog Dog, comes from grapes grown in all three vineyards, and is aged for 12 months in French oak. I had this wine with Thai curries and lemongrass baby back ribs. It stood up very well to those overwhelming flavors because of its own intriguing and even Asian spices.

In the nose, the wine has aromas of currants and black tea. On the palate, it had signature strawberry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a peppery finish. You can order the Fog Dog on Freestone’s web site for $35.

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