2015 "The Habitat"
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
As I have written elsewhere, the 2015 vintage was one of those years that fits neatly into the old saying that the vines have to suffer in order to produce great wine. Almost across the north coast of California, vines showed the impact of four years of below normal rainfall: stunted growth, late season stress, a tiny crop. They truly did struggle. But the wines are remarkable, not for their power and size but for their purity and beauty.
At the Barlow Homestead vineyard, yields were down around 30%. Not as dramatic as vineyards closer to the edge (at Hirsch, my blocks were down 66% from 2012-2014). And it was an early vintage. While the wines are undeniably ripe, there are no cooked flavors. The wines are quite concentrated but not out of balance, and the purity of fruit is stunning. I wish it was like this every year--well, maybe not the 33% lower crop part.
The 2015 Habitat was fermented with a healthy dose of whole clusters. They add texture and a background savory note that keeps things interesting. Wine writers sometimes describe a wine as palate-staining and I never quite knew what that meant until now. The staining is not from extract, but from fruit. Mostly red and purple fruit, with notes of spice from all those stems. No oak flavors to get in the way, it was aged entirely in older French oak barrels.
Available for Purchase