Santa Barbara County
One of the great thrills of pinot noir is how radically the vineyard site (exposure, climate, soil) affects the finished wine. My first introduction to this was in 1988 when Jim Clendenen and I were making wine together and we purchased grapes from Bien Nacido and Rancho Vinedo, which are across the street from each other. We crafted the wines identically but the results were so dissimilar! At first I couldn’t wrap my mind around the cause of this, however there were some obvious differences in how the vineyards grew. The Rancho Vinedo soils were far sandier and those vines grew without much vigor, while the Bien Nacido vines grew more exuberantly and were on a south facing slope of heavier soil—and these differences were dramatically expressed in the wines. Though it still astonishes me that two vineyards grown across the street from each other could have such different personalities, my years of experience since have validated the assumption that vineyard site plays a crucial role in wine quality.
This brings us to Puerta del Mar (door to the sea)—a six acre vineyard planted to pinot noir and chardonnay, located on Santa Rosa Road a stone’s throw from Highway 1—just south of Lompoc. A decade ago no one could have imagined that it was possible to ripen grapes successfully so close to the ocean. Perceptions change and so does the climate! Close planted on a level site of mostly alluvial soil with shale-y bits mixed throughout, the most distinctive trait of the vineyard is the constant wind that blows up the Santa Ynez River from the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, the first year we worked with the vineyard, the wind blasted the vines from bud break to harvest and the result was a fascinating but tiny crop. In the warmer 2012 & 2013 harvest the breeze at the vineyard kept it cooler than any of my other pinot sites. The crop was just as tiny, but the mild weather produced a more generous wine.
In all three vintages there are discernible vineyard characteristics of sweet baking spices—nutmeg and vanilla—with Bing cherry fruit and a clean fresh mushroom mineral earthiness. From such a harsh windy site I wasn’t sure what we would get—perhaps an odd wine that would only appeal to wine geeks—but no, Puerta del Mar delivers an elegant and friendly elixir that is simply delicious.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Alc: 12.5% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation | Barrel Aging: 18 Months in French Oak, 20% New | Total Production: 199 cases
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“One of the more delicate, sensual wines in the range, the 2013 Pinot Noir Puerta del Mar speaks to aromatics and silkiness above all else. Hard candy, rose petal, mint and cinnamon add further shades of nuance on the silky finish. Puerta del Mar sits on the western edge of the appellation. Although there is a suggestion of whole clusters, the 2013 was made from fully destemmed fruit.”- AG 93 Points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“A site that Adam first used for Pinot Noir in 2012, the 2013 Pinot Noir Puerta del Mar is an off-the-hook effort that blew me away with its silky, seamless texture. Giving up lots of classic Pinot Noir strawberry, raspberry, rose petal and exotic spice aromas and flavors, it has no hard edges, medium-bodied richness and a terrific finish. It shines more for its elegance and purity than power or richness, but I certainly wanted another glass.”- JD 95 Points