AG Pick: La Follette Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009

The first thing that grabs your attention on a bottle of La Follette wine is the illustration on the label: a man bending over the vines clutching a magic wand.

It represents the blend of tradition and whimsy that winemaker Greg La Follette brings to each of his wines. The illustration was taken from a French manual on viticulture published in 1847 that touted using the traditional methods of winegrowing instead of the newly developed methods that were faster and cheaper. The wand, not a part of the original illustration, was added to convey the magical relationship between the winemaker and the vines.

In the 2009 La Follette Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, tradition and whimsy combine to create a delicious wine. In the layered palate you taste the classic flavors of the Pinot Noir grape, plus the influence of the winemaker in using techniques like oak aging to support and enhance these flavors.

The grapes for La Follette’s wines come from carefully selected vineyards in California’s Sonoma Valley and Mendocino County. The Pinot Noir comes from the Sonoma Coast, a region which has cool temperatures and heavy winter rainfall. Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeast strains (instead of an inoculation of a specific strain selected by the winemaker). The wine was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels.

With its tantalizing aromas of chocolate covered strawberries, cherries and spice, the La Follette Pinot Noir further hooks you with its lush and full taste. Flavors of raspberry, cranberry and warm cherry pie mingle with earthy notes of white pepper, cocoa and clove. In the mouth the wine is round and silky smooth. Nice acidity is perfectly balanced with gentle tannins.  The finish is long and very satisfying.

As Greg La Follette recently wrote, “Pinot Noir should haunt, defy, please [and] excite one’s palate.”  This wine achieves those goals.

A bottle of the 2009 La Follette Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir costs $30.

alcohol 14.1% by volume

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