A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to taste the inaugural release of Pinot Noir from Mendocino’s Masút Vineyard and Winery. They were founded by third generation vintners Ben and Jacob Fetzer. Pinot Noir is one of the varietals that can shine in Mendocino County when treated properly. The Fetzer brothers do just that and I was impressed with the inaugural release as well as the follow-up. Now a couple of years later, they’ve added some block specific Pinot’s to their lineup. Here’s a look at those current releases. First up is the Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Estate Pinot Noir. Sorting and destemming of the fruit was done by hand into stainless steel fermenters. Both native and select yeasts were utilized for fermentation which took place over 15 days. Oak aging was accomplished over 11 months in French oak; 35% of the barrels were new. This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Just more than 1,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40. The nose of this wine brings to mind a bowl of fresh, juicy cherries. The palate here is dominated by red fruit characteristics, cherry and strawberry mostly, with bits of black fruit poking through. Minerals, spice, and bits of earth are all part of the finish which has excellent length and persistence. This is a well rounded, tremendously delicious Pinot Noir that lines up nicely with the previous two vintages. Just three vintages in the Masút Estate Pinot Noir is becoming a reference point for top shelf Mendocino County Pinot Noir.
This year they also released some block specific selections. I tasted them side by side and here are some thoughts on them:
Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 1.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 1 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. The nose is fresh with red fruits starring. Sweet, wild strawberries and red cherries carry the palate along with bits of spice. Rhubarb, black pepper and clove emerge on the finish along with a hint of minerals and continued spice.
Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 7.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 7 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. A bit of green herb emerges from the nose along with wisps of red apple. Gingerbread spices and red fruits interspersed with hints of black are present through the palate. A light earthiness and tons of mineral characteristics are in evidence on the finish. Amongst a distinct lineup of four Block selections, this one stands apart from the rest as perhaps the most impressive and unique.
Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 11.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 11 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. Hints of violet and red fruits give way to an avalanche of spices on the nose of this Pinot. Rhubarb, cherries (red and black) as well as strawberries are all in strong evidence throughout the palate of Block 11. The finish shows warming red fruits and spices galore. Gala Apple, cinnamon and a bit of cardamom are of note. This is a fresh and lovely Pinot Noir. It was the tightest of the whole bunch upon opening and more so than the rest was helped by an hour in the decanter.
Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 13.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 13 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. Mushroom, Bay Leaf and bits of earth mark the nose of the Block 13. Dark cherry and black pepper are dominant through the palate. Hints of Kirsch Liqueur emerge on the finish along with continued black pepper and other spices. Zippy acidity marks the structure of this wine.
If you’re a fan of well made, site specific Pinot Noir these offerings from Masút Vineyard should be on your short list of wines to acquire and taste. They’re each tasty, well made and interesting on their own. But if you want to have a really fascinating afternoon or evening, line them up and taste them side by side. You’ll be in for an eye opening and delicious time. As a Pinot Noir lover I’m excited about what these folks have already accomplished and look forward to what future vintages will bring.