Red

2006 Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard

Marcassin

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Average Score 94.0

The 2006 Pinot Noirs that are just being released include the 2006 Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard. While it has closed down since I tasted it last year, it does reveal a dark plum/ruby color as well as a smoky bouquet of Asian plum sauce, soy, forest floor and sweet black cherries. Like many Marcassin Pinots, it possesses a Morey St.-Denis-like character. The Three Sisters cuvee will benefit from another 1-2 years of bottle age and drink well for a decade or more. ||It was great to see Helen Turley finally make the cover of the Wine Spectator in 2010 after twenty years of this brilliant, artisanal operation being largely ignored. Readers will not find anyone more knowledgeable about viticulture and winemaking than the husband and wife team of Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer. While much of the article’s focus is on how many top wineries Helen Turley once served as a consultant, their long term goal was always to be completely independent of any consulting jobs, focusing solely on their own vineyard. As I reported last year, there will no longer be any Pinot Noir from the Blue Slide Vineyard or Chardonnay from the Three Sisters Vineyard (both sites owned by the well-known Martinelli family in the Russian River). However, there will be more Marcassin Estate wines as they now have 20 acres under vine on the steep hillsides of the Sonoma Coast. Both Turley and Wetlaufer were among the first in California to try and emulate the full malolactic style found in most French white Burgundies. There is plenty of history to support what they are trying to accomplish. Wetlaufer, who was the wine buyer at the All Seasons Market in Calistoga, was a huge Burgundy fan at the time, and he formed a Burgundy tasting group with many other well-known winemakers. That gave him the opportunity to analyze both white and red Burgundies, and to get a detailed perspective of Burgundy. It is ironic that the Marcassin Chardonnays probably eclipse 98% of white Burgundies made today for their complexity and aging potential. While I have never been a believer in the ageworthiness of California Chardonnay vis a vis white Burgundy, all I have to do is go back and open a 1996 or 1995 Marcassin Chardonnay, which was then made from purchased fruit, to recognize how amazingly well their wines age. Readers have two spectacular vintages from Marcassin coming on the market – the 2007 and 2008 Chardonnays as well as the 2007 and 2006 Pinot Noirs. The 2008 Chardonnays are remarkable as well. There was no frost damage at the Marcassin estate because of the vineyard’s lofty elevation.||Tel. (707) 258-3608; Fax (707) 942-5633 Wine Advocate.February, 2011

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