MacMurray Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Ruby-burgundy color with translucence; cherry, lavender, dark fruits on the nose; dark fruits, cherry, boysenberry, raspberry, plum on the palate.

MacMurray Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Complexity, depth, fruit-forward; brown sugar on the finish—this was aged in 100% French oak, one-third new, one-third second use, one-third third use. Fine tannins, medium-full body, good mouth texture, good acidity for a pinot noir (3.72 pH). High alcohol (14.8%) combined with the fruit-forwardness adds to the sweetness perception and makes this is a big California pinot noir. It is not an etherial Willamette Valley or Burgundian style.

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) purchased the property in 1941 and raised black angus cattle. The Gallo Family purchased the ranch and planted vines in the mid-1990s after MacMurray’s death, but MacMurray’s daughter, Kate, later joined the operation as chief spokesperson. BTW, Kate earned a masters degree in film studies from Southern Cal; she also lives on the property in an 800-square-foot redwood fishing cabin her father helped build.

Kate MacMurray

Now expanded beyond the original 1,500 acres, MacMurray focuses on pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot gris. Reflecting that expansion, the winery goes now calls itself “MacMurray Estate Vineyards”, but previously it was called “MacMurray Ranch”.

Grapes for this wine come from Gallo’s Laguna Ranch Vineyard (49%; foggy, coastal climate), MacMurray Ranch Vineyard (37%; heavy fogs, cooler microclimate), and Del Rio Vineyard (14%; warmer, variety of soils). Five-day cold soak, low temperature fermentation in stainless steel, only free-run juice picked for plushness and silky textures was used in this reserve effort. Malolactic fermentation in barrel; nine months in French oak; all juice was sur lie during entire process to evoke roundness and richer mouthfeel.

Winemaker Boyd Morrison

Winemaker Boyd Morrison oversees this operation. 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 Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 is a tasty, fruit-forward California pinot noir at a very fair value-for-price. $35-43

MacMurray Estate Vineyards website

MacMurray Estate vineyard
Fred MacMurray