Carneros Creek Winery2004 Grail Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyard
(Carneros ~ Los Carneros)
Take careful notes boy and girls because this is going to get a little convoluted: The Carneros Creek Winery brand in the Napa Valley, is now owned by the Briarcliff Wine Group, a marketer based in Kelseyville, CA, which is in Lake County. The Carneros Creek Winery property is now owned by Michael Mondavi and his family. Francis Mahoney, the founder of Carneros Creek Winery, is considered a tenant of the property and will begin to release wines under his own name. Finally, Ken Foster, who still makes wine for Mahoney, also makes wine for Briarcliff. He made this wine.
Got all that?
The wine in question is from the Las Brisas Vineyard, which is on the Sonoma side of the Carneros, not the Napa side. Las Brisas (the breezes), is the coolest of all the Carneros Creek vineyards. It was planted in 1996 on soil that is very sandy and gravelly, with superior drainage. The vineyard has a dozen clones, planted by Mahoney, who was an early progenitor of clonal selection, believing that there would eventually be a single clone that would best be suitable for making Pinot Noir.
The wine has some mint in the soft nose. Its fruit is bright and delicious and the wine is in excellent balance. It’s an excellently made wine for the long term.
The wine was fermented for 16 months in 30 percent new French oak, which was comprised of Burgundy and Bordeaux barrels. The remainder of the wood regimen consisted of 3-to-5-year-old barrels. The listed alcohol is 14.5 percent and there were 1,000 cases produced.
Reviewed January 16, 2007 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.