Wine of the week: Enkidu, 2010 Tina Marie, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.
To make great pinot you have to be zen-like.
That's according to Phillip Staehle, the winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner— the Enkidu, 2010 Tina Marie, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.4 percent alcohol, ($45).
The pinot is elegant with refreshing acidity and layered flavors of cherry, herbs and spice. It has great minerality and nice length.
“You take more of a gentle hand with pinot noir as opposed to petite sirah and beat it like a red-headed step-child,” Staehle joked. “You have to be zen-like and don't force it. In it's own sweet time, it will be there. You have to let it unfold on its own.”
Staehle said patience was definitely a virtue during the cool harvest of 2010 when a longer hang time was needed.
“We were able to give it a long hang time without driving up the sugars,” Staehle said. “With pinot, it can be very etherial with a satin texture and much more femininity. It's not like a big petite sirah.”
Staehle said the winning Enkidu pinot hails from an 11-acre vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and pinot from this region is blessed with layered flavors raspberry, cranberry, black fruit, brown spice and mushroom.
‘It's sometimes even meaty,” Staehle said. “The pinot develops levels of complexities as the wines evolve and these wines tend to be very harmonious.”
Staehle founded Enkidu in Sonoma in 2003, and he's the owner and winemaker. He began his career in 1987 at Carmenet, now known as Repris Wines in Sonoma.
Enkidu produces 4,000 case a year, up from 250, and the range includes pinot noir, petite sirah, zinfandel, cabernet, syrah, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. But Staehle also experiments with other varietals like barbera and carignane.
“Winemakers like to play,” he joked.
Enkidu is attempting to produce austere old world wines with most under 14 percent alcohol, and it pours many of its bottlings in its Kenwood tasting room.
With pinot noir, Staehle said, he's trying to capture its complexity and beauty.
“You lose complexity and lose a sense of place when you make it riper and riper and it goes to a place of being over-ripe,” Staehle said. “Pinot noir is more subtle in a lot of ways, and we're not trying to make it such a powerful wine.”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECAPPING THE PICKS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Wine of the Week
Scouting for the tastiest pinot noirs
Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of pinot noirs, from crisp to ripe, with plenty in-between. Our wine-of-the-week winner is the Enkidu, 2010 Tina Marie, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at $45, well worth the price.
2010 Tina Marie, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 14.4 percent alcohol, ($45).
An elegant pinot with refreshing acidity and layered flavors. Notes of cherry, herbs and spice. Great minerality. Nice length.
Others worth noting:
Dutton Goldfield, 2011 Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.5 percent, $40.
A bright pinot noir with lovely red fruit -- cherry and rhubarb. Seamless texture. Nice length.
MacMurray Ranch, 2010 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 13.8 percent, $27.
A tasty pinot with notes of black cherry, toast and spice. Lingering finish.
Pali, 2011 Alphabets, Willamette Valley, 13.3 percent, $21.
A ripe pinot with aromas and flavors of cranberry, bing cherry and white pepper. Layered flavors. Lovely.
Chamisal Vineyards, 2010 Edna Valley Pinot Noir, 14.5 percent, $38.
A bright pinot with red notes. Aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry and cranberry. A touch earthy. Crisp finish.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.