Pale-medium ruby color; fresh red berries, smoke, raspberry, earth, forest floor on the nose; black cherry, raspberry, plum, oak toast, vanilla on the palate.
Dry; dense and robust with firm but silky tannins and good acidity (3.74 pH) on the attack; 14.5% ABV. Some vanilla and fruity sweetness comes into play on the mid-palate and nicely long finish. Complex with layers of medium-light fruit that work through the swallow in your mouth and evolve with air in your glass. This is a Russian River region pinot: a pleasantly tasty and satisfying wine rather than an assertive California pinot. It does not reach the etherial levels of some Willamette Valley offerings, but should be enjoyed for what it is.
Controlled use of oak—11 months in 100% French barrels, 30% new. The result is some oak and vanilla, but the flavors happily complement and frame the fruits rather than compete. That is what oak is supposed to do.
The grapes were sourced from “the gateway to the Sonoma Coast”—the Sangiacomo and Lakeville vineyards planted by the Sangiacomo family during the 1990s as part of the “rebirth of the Petaluma Gap region.” Wind and fog cover the vineyards in the early morning and late afternoon, allowing for the extra hang time that builds complexity.
The wines are a collaboration between Tim and Sabrina Persson, 5th generation members of the Hess Family (I have reviewed Hess wines many times), and noted winemaker Matt Courtney. According to the winery, they all share a common belief wine is art with a splash of science. Courtney asserts: “Capture all the potential in the glass without having to augment or subtract. I believe less intervention in the cellar makes a better wine. My goal is to craft a seamless wine where every component is in balance.” Bravo for that approach.
MacPhail The Flyer Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2016 is fresh, velvety, smooth with somewhat light, tasty red and black fruits. Easy drinker with admirable layers and complexity. This should pair well with lighter foods—seared salmon; roasted or grilled lobster; fennel-garlic pork roast; glazed ham with red pepper; stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts; vegan enchiladas; roast chicken; rotisserie chicken; baked chicken; maple-glazed chicken breasts; grilled quail with pine nuts; chicken or turkey sausages; beef Wellington; mushroom risotto. $40-50