Austin Creek Cellars Carneros Pinot Noir 2013
By Jonathan H. Newman*
Austin Creek 2013 Carneros Pinot Noir by Erica O’Brien
UNIT SIZE: 750.00
VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
GRAPE: Pinot Noir
COUNTRY: United States
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 13.50%
SPECIAL DESIGNATION: Value Buy
This is a very compelling wine for the price point that has the taste profile and pedigree of a much more pricy bottle. Austin Creek is from the Two Creeks Vineyard (known for its Coastal influence and located on the border of Napa and Sonoma), which was planted fifteen years ago. It is 100% Pinot Noir and all from the Carneros AVA of the Sonoma Valley. It is made by winemaker Erica O’Brien. A pretty floral nose with bright red fruit including cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a touch of pomegranate, and cranberry. Elegant and pretty fruit on the palate with cranberry, kirsch, cherry, wild strawberry, red plum, and red flowers. Pair with Veal Milanese, Duck breast, Ahi poke tuna, and fried scallops or shrimp. Enjoy now and over the next several years. Less than 1,000 cases were produced.
By Austin Creek Cellars
2013 Sonoma Valley - Carneros Pinot Noir
Appellion: 100% Carneros - Sonoma Valley
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Aged: 11 months
The Two Creeks vineyard was planted in 1999 and is located in the rolling hills of the Carneros AVA that straddles the southern area of both Napa and Sonoma counties. The appellation is unique to the rest of the North Coast because of a strong coastal influence from the nearby San Pablo Bay and the mouth of the Napa River making it ideal for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyard is comprised of a mix of Swan, Pommard and Dijon clone vines and situated near some of the area’s most well-known vineyards including Madrone, MacRostie, Robledo Family and Anaba Wines.
Winemaker Erica O’Brien nurtures her passion for winemaking by focusing on how to express a particular vineyard or varietal in every project. O’Brien gained this focus by working for several wineries in California and by traveling around the globe. “When I tasted the flavors of a Cambodian Amok curry matched with a floral California Viognier, I really realized just how amazing our world is and wanted to share that joy with everyone back home.” When she first visited the Two Rivers property and walked throughout the different vineyard blocks to gain an understanding of the soils, vines and the topography of the vineyard she knew she needed to create a wine that drew on the power of the mature vines while retaining the light and approachable texture of an enjoyable Pinot Noir.
The 2013 vintage provided ideal growing conditions and O’Brien harvested the grapes at night in early October to ensure the grapes were in excellent condition when they arrived at the winery. After a light processing to remove stems, leaves and any other unwanted material the destemmed grapes were transferred into open-top fermentation tanks for a two-day cold soak before primary fermentation. O’Brien learned the fundamentals of winemaking at the University of California, Davis but complemented that classroom education with more than a decade of professional winemaking experience. At Clos La Chance winery in California’s Central Coast, O’Brien studied the dynamics between grape quality and vineyard location and also gained hands-on experience of the Carneros appellation while working at Roche Winery.
The 2013 Austin Creek Pinot Noir is a pure Pinot in appearance appearing light crimson in the glass with bright, almost transparent, edges. Aromas of ripe cherry mingle with hints of licorice and are followed with fresh fruit flavors framed by grape tannins and a vibrant natural acidity. The finish is exceptionally clean and refreshing and the wine is an excellent reflection of what makes Carneros such an ideal home for the varietal. “The grapes from this particular vineyard ripened with luscious fruit flavors while maintaining good, natural acidity,” she says. That allowed O’Brien to craft a wine that makes an excellent pairing with food and is an example of her commitment to preserving a sense of place in each of the wines.
[Information provided by J.H.N.]
*Jonathan Newman was Wine Enthusiasts’ Man of the Year. He also was Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and received national recognition in Marvin Shanken’s Market Watch Magazine and many other international wine publications. He was also awarded the Guild of Sommeliers highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Newman's reviews have been published and quoted extensively online and in print. He travels extensively to many of the major wine growing regions and evaluates many of the wines we source from smaller and boutique wineries. We interact closely with him and the result is his rejection rate of over 96% of the wines evaluated.