2009 Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard Marcassin

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Average critic rating : 90.0 points



The soft, dark ruby-hued 2009 Pinot Noir Three Sisters exhibits notes of Asian soy, ripe plums and sweet cherries. Fruit-forward and medium-bodied with good acidity, it is an excellent, but not outstanding Pinot Noir to drink over the next 6-10 years. ||The visionary husband and wife team of John Wetlaufer and Helen Turley have created a largely unprecedented legacy of extraordinary quality that is unsurpassed by anyone else in Northern California. They have built a winery in Windsor, California in Sonoma Valley with 20 acres of vines situated high above the fog line, on the Sonoma Coast. They were among the first to recognize the extraordinary potential for world-class quality wine production on the Sonoma Coast. Their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines are planted at elevations between 800 and 1,400 feet. The plantings are either 5 x 8 or 3 x 6.5. The Chardonnay clonal material is dominated by Old Wente, but there are also selections from the Hyde, Mt. Eden, Dijon 95 and Dijon 76 clones. The Pinot Noir clonal material is dominated by the Calera selection, with some Old Swan that came via the old Martin Ray clone that came via Dehlinger and Kistler. The second part of their 20-acre vineyard was planted, at least for the Pinot Noir, largely with the Calera selection as well as the newer Dijon clones 777 and 667.The winemaking techniques are clearly artisanal and very Burgundian, although these Chardonnays tend to age better than most white Burgundies made since 1996. I tasted two vintages, the Three Sisters, which is a Martinelli-farmed vineyard from which they will no longer be using fruit, in addition to their profound estate vineyard. 2010 produced just over two tons of fruit per acre and was a vintage that appears to be slightly more intense and have a higher ceiling than 2009.||Tel. (707) 942-5633 Wine Advocate.December, 2013

One of the most influential artisanal winemakers in California, Marcassin is famed for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Described by Robert Parker as “virtually perfect”, it is consistently compared to the finest that Burgundy has to offer, not only in terms of depth and complexity but also (regrettably) in terms of scarcity.

A tiny estate, barely twenty acres on the Sonoma Coast, Marcassin Vineyard is planted two thirds Pinot to one third Chardonnay. Additional fruit is sourced from other neighbouring vineyards (Blue Slide Ridge and Three Sisters for the Pinot Noirs). Only a couple of hundred cases of each cuvee are made per year and 80% of that goes directly to mailing list members, making occasional availability on the secondary market the only way most people will ever get a chance to claim a bottle or two.

Owner Helen Turley has served as consulting winemaker for some of the best wineries in the United States, from Pahlmeyer, to Colgin, to Martinelli. Marcassin is her own label, owned together with her viticulturist husband, and the wines they produce together are seldom less than extraordinary. Stylistically rich and opulent, they are long-ageing wines which combine Old World elegance with New World power and sensibilities and easily rival the very best of Burgundy, both white and red.

Scores have reached 100-point highs on a number of occasions, with some of the most memorable vintages including the 2008, 2002 and 2002 Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay, and the 2004 and 2002 Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Owners Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer continue to reside at the top of a short list of producers making the world's most prodigious, complex wines – Robert Parker

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