Dehlinger 2012 Pinot Noir Estate, Altamont, Russian River Valley
In 1975 Tom Dehlinger planted the initial 14 acres of vineyard. From the start, his emphasis has been on extracting, developing, and preserving the maximum flavor from the grapes and producing small amounts of hand-worked, barrel-aged wines. Today their focus is entirely on estate grown wines producing 7000 just cases annually of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since their first vintage they have enjoyed a national reputation and a loyal following that snaps up every bottle they produce. This Altamont Pinot Noir comes from the hilltop sections of the vineyard, where the Altamont soil predominates. Altamont soil has a very thin topsoil and in these areas the grapes grow almost directly in the subsoil and struggle more. Yields average well under two tons per acre and the grapes are small and especially concentrated. These wines showcase darker fruit flavors and aromas of baking spices. The inclusion of a small percentage of whole clusters in the fermentation lends greater structure and aging potential. Antonio Galloni scored this 95 points saying "Darker tonalities of fruit emerge from the 2012 Pinot Noir Altamont Vineyard. Mint, spices, new leather and flowers are some of the nuances that are woven throughout. Firm tannins suggest the 2012 will provide at least a dozen years of exceptional drinking. Hints of lavender, smoke, violets, smoke and dark red/bluish fruits add the final layers of nuance. Huge, voluptuous and inviting, the 2012 hits all the right notes. Today, the 2012 is every bit as impressive as it was last year. When I think of the Russian River Valley and its reference-point producers, Dehlinger is always top of mind. Eva Dehlinger is back from a year of studying viticulture in Burgundy. My sense is that she has the ambition to take quality through the roof at her family's winery. The 2012 Pinots are just as exuberant and beautiful from bottle as they were from barrel."