While less well known than its neighbors of Napa or Sonoma, California’s Mendocino County has established a reputation for producing high quality wines. Its Pinot Noirs and Alsatian varieties from the cool climate, high elevation Anderson Valley AVA are especially coveted (read more about the Anderson Valley here).
Further inland, the heat of the Redwood Valley AVA is more suited to warm climate varieties such as Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. But, the unproven (and still pending) Eagle Peak AVA is hoping to distinguish itself as another Mendocino outpost for Pinot Noir.
Third generation grape growers and winemakers Jake and Ben Fetzer have been among the driving forces behind the proposed Eagle Peak AVA, which is home to the brothers’ Masut Vineyard and Winery.
Named for the Native American word, which translates as “dark, rich Earth,” Masut was originally purchased by Jake and Ben’s father Bobby Fetzer. The 1,500-acre Masut Ranch has been dedicated to growing Pinot Noir. The three Fetzer men planted the 23-acre vineyard in 1997, purposefully delineating 13 different blocks and specifying three distinct clones. Although it doesn’t appear to have been certified, the vineyard is farmed organically, a practice initially pioneered in the County by the Fetzer family when they formerly owned the Fetzer wine brand (it is currently under the ownership of Vina Concha Y Toro).
These carefully cultivated grapes were previously sold to other wineries, but in the wake of their father’s death in 2006, the two brothers converted an existing barn into a winery. Their first estate wine was made in 2009 with only 800 cases produced. At an increased production of 2,450 cases, the current release is a bit less exclusive, but still relatively scarce. However, it is available for purchase via the winery’s website.
Masut Vineyard & Winery, Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012, Mendocino County (CA), USA, $40.00
Bright aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry and a hint of spice are reiterated on the palate with the ripe fruit joined by a peppery note and a slight undercurrent of earth. The bold flavors are nicely balanced with vibrant acidity.