Pale ruby color; lavender, cherry, raspberry, vanilla on the nose; plum, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, light oak and oak spice on the palate.
Dry; medium body; smooth, silky, fresh in the mouth; good acidity (3.67 pH); very easy going tannin. Deftly done oak—eight months in mostly French oak barrels, 20% new, 80% used. Bright, fresh, delicious expression of Russian River Valley pinot noir. Tart cherry and raspberry, pepper emerge on the nicely long finish.
MacMurray Estate enjoys a great multi-family, multi-generational backstory. It began as the Porter family farm in the 1850s. Actor Fred MacMurray (My Three Sons, Double Indemnity, The Caine Mutiny) purchased the property in 1941 and raised black angus cattle, prunes, apples, and alfalfa. The Gallo Family purchased the ranch and planted vines in the mid-1990s after MacMurray’s death.
MacMurray’s daughter, Kate, later joined the operation as chief spokesperson; she also is an actress, screenwriter, and environment activist. Kate earned a masters degree in film studies from Southern Cal; she lives on the property in an 800-square-foot redwood fishing cabin her father helped build. The other original buildings on the site have been restored, and the property is graced by old growth oaks, redwood trees, and indigenous wildlife.
Now expanded beyond the original 1,500 acres, the MacMurray wine operation focuses on pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris. Reflecting that expansion, the winery now calls itself “MacMurray Estate Vineyards”; previously it was called “MacMurray Ranch”.
Winemaker Boyd Morrison oversees operations. The Bay Area native earned his degree in viticulture and enology at Cal-Davis, then worked at wineries in Napa, Chile, California’s Central Coast, Simi Winery, and Alexander Valley Vineyards before coming to MacMurray. He enjoys the unfolding challenges of pinot noir, stating on the website: “We’re still discovering how we can make our Pinot Noir better, how we can grow the grapes better, and how we can do that consistently, no matter what a vintage throws at us or what challenges we face.” Most quality grape growers and wine makers would echo that sentiment.
MacMurray Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2014 is silky and delicious with impressive complexity. Vibrant red fruits with hints of blue fruit and skillfully managed oak. Pair with grilled lamb chops, poached or oven-baked salmon, grilled calamari and meatballs, slow-cooked beef, pot roast, garlic and herb-roasted pork tenderloin, roasted mushrooms with herbs. $23-28