Pinot noir shows well when it’s been tended by a detail-oriented winemaker.
Hugh Chappelle falls under this camp. He lags our red wine of the week winner– the La Follette, 2019 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Heintz Vineyard, 13.5%, $65. Weighted to red fruit, this pinot has notes of cranberry, pomegranate and raspberry. Well balanced, with crisp acidity and tasty fruit, it’s excellent.
“If you do not consume over details and minutiae, it may be more challenging to produce pinot noir,” Chappelle stated. “Lucky for me, I seem to have actually been blessed– or cursed, depending upon how you look at it– to obsess over information and minutiae.”
The secret to crafting remarkable pinot noir lies in finding a fantastic site and farmer, he said. This bottling was a collaboration with grower Charlie Heintz and his Heintz vineyard in Occidental.
“While Heintz Cattle ranch is best-known for remarkable chardonnay, and it’s arguably a Grand Cru site for this range, numerous are not mindful that Charlie also grows incredible pinot noir,” Chappelle said, comparing the website to the best (the “Grand Cru”) vineyards in Burgundy and Alsace, France.
Grand Cru is a French wine category that signifies the best-quality white wines from particular vineyards in France.
The wine maker said Heintz is a remarkable farmer, and he’s been working with him considering that 2000.
“You can have an excellent site, but if you do not link the dots with excellent farming, the potential isn’t recognized,” he stated.
Chappelle, 60, is head winemaker for La Follette White Wines & & Quivira Vineyards. He earned a bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Cruz in 1985.
The design he’s shooting for, Chappelle said, is a sophisticated, smooth pinot noir that’s balanced and has excellent power and concentration without being heavy.
Established in 2009, La Follette is produced at Healdsburg’s Quivira Vineyards by Chappelle and his winemaking group. The brand focuses entirely on pinot noir and chardonnay, with 6,000 to 7,000 cases yearly.
Chappelle’s preferred white wine book is “White wine & & War” by Don and Petie Kladstrup.
“It’s an interesting history of winemaking in France during The Second World War,” he stated. “It’s hectic and a great read.”
When it comes to his most-prized Old World white wine region, the wine maker said, “It’s a tie between Burgundy and Tuscany. I’m a huge fan of the red wines from both areas, where white wine culture runs so deep and has such a long, remarkable history.”
When it pertains to the New World, Chappelle fasts to select Sonoma County.
“How could I not state Sonoma County? From zinfandel to pinot noir, from chardonnay to cabernet, we appear to be able to do all of it at world-class quality levels. Within Sonoma County, the west Sonoma County, formerly ‘real’ Sonoma Coast, is to me a truly unique area where both pinot noir and chardonnay shine bright in an extremely unique method.”
You can reach white wine author Peg Melnik at [email protected] or 707-521-5310.