2016 Samuel Louis Wines "Albatross Ridge Vineyard" Monterey Pinot Noir (Previously $40)

SKU #1339728 93 points Wine Enthusiast

 Samuel Smith, who also works for Morgan Winery, is a young winemaker to watch, and he got his hands on fruit from an epic vineyard for this wine. Aromas of framboise, wild thyme, tea and cigar box lead into a lively palate full of pomegranate and nutmeg spice. The texture, taut yet mouthfilling, is even more fascinating. *Editors' Choice* (MK)  (7/2018)

K&L Notes

Winemaker's Notes: "Albatross Ridge Vineyard is organically farmed by our good friend Garret Bowlus. Perched at the top of Laureles Grade, northwest of Carmel Valley, at an elevation of 1,250 feet, this site pushes every limit in winegrowing. In the wind and overlooking the Carmel Coast, degree days here are minimal (less than 2000) and so are yields (less than two tons per acre). Paired with light soils of shale, diatomaceous earth, and clay loam, the wines from Albatross Ridge achieve a stunning, lithe balance at very low potential alcohol. Ruby red and medium bodied. Wild cherry and black tea are framed by herbes de Provence and sweet tobacco. Fresh acidity lends structure and persistence. Alcohol 12.8%, 25% whole cluster fermentation, 11 months élévage in 36% new François Frères and Ermitage barrels, 109 cases produced. Drink 2018-2025."

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Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Monterey/Carmel Valley

- These heavily planted regions on either side of the vast Salinas Valley account for much of the mass-produced, commercial wine sold in supermarkets nationwide. In the hills, however, and in sub-AVAs like Chalone and Santa Lucia Highlands, quality is much higher. Pinot noir and chardonnay look to be particularly promising.