This striking expression, the 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Sun Chase Vineyard ($65), is new for the Carte Blanche winemaking group this year in two ways. It’s the first vintage that celebrated winemaker Helen Keplinger crafted from vineyard to bottle, and it’s the first time that Carte Blanche has used grapes from a block of Sun Chase vineyard.
The vineyard has a high elevation in Sonoma’s Petaluma Gap where it gets washed by cool ocean breezes and some fog to balance all the sun—all the conditions in which Pinot Noir thrives. Four different Pinot clones grown at varying elevations were used in making this wine, adding layers of complexity—a Keplinger hallmark—that prove out on the palate, with bright red fruit flavors, as well as dusky thyme, cedar, sandalwood, and some astringent tea notes. Delicate and tempting whiffs of blackberry pastry waft from the glass.
While enjoyable now, the dark burgundy wine has a tight enough structure and enough acid to allow it to age beautifully for years to come.