Sosie Pinot Noir, Spring Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2019

Deep ruby color; cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla, clove, earth on the nose; cherry, plum, raspberry, strawberry, saline, earth on the palate.

Sosie Pinot Noir, Spring Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2019

Dry; excellent fruit; medium body. Pinot noir reflects terroir and the vine clone. Three clones are used—Swan, Pommard, Calera. Swan delivers aromatics. Pommard delivers plum flavors. Calera delivers velvety texture. The grapes are handpicked from the sustainably-farmed vineyard. Native yeasts used for fermentation. Thirty percent of the wine is whole cluster fermented. Twenty days spent on the skins. Aged 20 months in oak, 30% in new barrels, remainder in neutral barrels. 13.8% ABV

Sosie prides itself on being conservative with oak: “We are very particular about the barrels we use—the cooperage, the amount of ‘toast’ they receive, and of course, how long the wine stays in them. All of these things contribute to how much flavor is imparted. The telltale aromas of oak—vanilla, spice, clove, caramel—are desirable but only in moderation. Our aim is to court the effect of oak, not its flavor.”

The Spring Hill vineyard sits on a windblown ridge, seven miles from the ocean at it lowest point. The location is in the Petaluma Gap, which is a conduit for cold air and fog off the Pacific. Sustainable practices include composting, natural cover crops of Lupine, crimson clover, California poppy and rye. Owls keep the vineyard free of rodents. The vineyard is dedicated to pinot noir; berries are quite small and yields can be less than one ton per acre. In addition to grapes, there are herds of Wagyu and Scottich Highland cattle.

Sosie principals Scott and Regina MacFiggen tasting

The Sosie website explains the mission of its principals—Scott and Regina MacFiggen—and the winery name: “When we got into this business, it was with the conviction that our wines would stand for something. That they would not just have a style, but a purpose. We were going to craft our wines to be food-friendly. So: lower in alcohol, higher in acid, structured and layered and made in small batches with minimal intervention and the lightest touch of oak. What name might convey all that?

“We went round and round until we ran out of ideas. So we hired a writer and gave him a brief: New world wines for old world palates. He gave us 50 names, about half of them French. This made our heads swim. But when we evaluated them based what the words mean, how they sound, how distinctive they are, Sosie (so-zee) rose to the top. It’s French for “twin or spitting image,” which neatly summarized our winemaking aspiration. The fact that it sailed through the trademark gauntlet proved just how original it was.”

Sosie winemaker Kieran Robinson

The MacFiggens assert restraint is the true measure of a wine. “We prefer restraint over ripeness, precision over power, finesse over flamboyance. These are the hallmarks of great wines. Of French wines. The kind found in the Rhone, the Loire, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We craft our wines in their manner. We aim to be their twin, their sosie.”

Sosie Wines Pinot Noir, Spring Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2019 is elegant and delicious. Only seven barrels produced by meticulous winemakers. Integrated tannins and acidity. Well-balanced. Whole cluster added depth, rich fruit flavors. Nice structure. Great QPR for a wine of this superior quality. Pair with the usual pinot noir suspects—salmon and other fatty fish; seared tuna; roasted chicken; pasta dishes; stews like beef bourguignon; rack of lamb; grilled chicken and portobello mushrooms. Cheese—sheep’s milk cheeses; gruyère, comté, emmenthal, gouda, taleggio. $45-49

Sosie Wines website

Sosie grape sorting
Sosie owner Scott MacFiggen evaluating wine in barrel