McHenry Vineyard2004 Estate Pinot Noir, Bonny Doon Vineyard
(Santa Cruz Mountains)
Winemaker Henry McHenry was beaming at the recent Pinot Paradise, a showcase of Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir from all over the appellation. Whether he knew it or not, his wines were among the most distinctive of the entire tasting, and I made sure I included his wines as part of the “Top Ten” must-taste wines that I shared with colleagues. With 35 wineries represented, and most of the lot very high in quality, to make it to the top required distinct personality. And this wine has it from every perspective. If you are looking for quintessential high altitude, high aromatics French-style Pinot, coupled with great fruit, this is your ticket.
From a cool climate, wind- and fog-swept hillside at 1800 feet on Bonny Doon Road, not far from the ocean, this vineyard was replanted in 1997, and the 04 vintage represents the 5th one Henry and Linda made from this dry-farmed site. The new vineyard lies in the same spot as the one Dean, Jane, Henry and Linda McHenry originally planted in 1972. Those old vines produced some extraordinary wines, including the 1984 vintage that won numerous awards including best Pinot Noir in the state at the California State Fair, and gold medals for the 1988 and 1989 vintages. Sadly, the vineyard succumbed to Pierces Disease in 1992, and it would not be until 1997, the last summer of our senior partner Chancellor Dean McHenry’s life, that the vineyard would be replanted. The vines are primarily the Swan clone, plus Dijon 115, 13 and Pommard. The first two are own-rooted.
The grapes were harvested between August 28 and 30 at 24.4 degrees Brix, 1.0 total acidity (percent by volume) and 3.2 pH. The primary fermentation lasted nine days and the resulting wine developed for nearly two years in Francois Freres French oak barrels. The aromas are complex and intense with rosehips perfume, dried rose petals, apricot jam, a hint of Montmorency cherry. This wine has a lithe dancer’s elegance and balance, filling your mouth with just ripe blueberries, dried apricots and cherries. The finish is long, haunting and unforgettable, like Ingrid Bergman bidding Bogey adieu in “Casablanca.”
Reviewed June 29, 2008 by Laura Ness.
A wine writer and wine judge for major publications and competitions around the country, Laura Ness likens wine to the experience of music. She is always looking for that ubiquitous marriage of rhythm, melody, and flawless execution. What is good music? You know it when you get lost in it. What is good wine? It is music in your mouth.