MacPhail Family Wines: New 2012 Pinot Noir Releases


These new releases from James MacPhail are outstanding examples of California (and Oregon) single vineyard Pinot Noirs. They are from among California’s finest vineyards such as the Sangiacomo, Dutton, Pratt and Rita’s Crown. These vineyards are located in ideal growing areas for Pinot Noir, especially along the Sonoma Coast and Green Valley.  They produce ripe and elegant wines with good acidity and freshness and reveal distinctive characteristics.

One of the rewarding experiences tasting James MacPhail’s wines is that he practices winemaking techniques that let each vineyard express itself in the wine. The Pinot Noirs are all crafted following rather similar winemaking regimes consisting of five to seven days of cold maceration and 11 to 14 days total cuvaison, the use of natural yeast, 100% destemming, native malo, and no fining or filtering. The grapes, however, are blends from many different Pinot Noir clones:  Dijon clones 115, 667, 828, and 777, as well as Pommard, Calera, Dehlinger, Swan, and others.

Although these wines are from different vineyards, they share certain characteristics in common, and they bear the stamp of James McPhail’s winemaking. They are generally quite elegant tasting with dark cherry fruit and rich floral, earth, minerals and cedar nuances. They also share a velvet texture, roundness in the mouth, and have soft polished tannins.  The wines of the 2012 vintage seems to be riper than we remember, but the wines are all beautifully balanced and have their own distinctive features, which makes tasting them so interesting and satisfying.  All the wines are made in very limited quantities, usually around 300 cases or less.    We also review a stunning new release of the Pinot Noir Mardikian Estate wine.

Bellavista Riddling Racks

The MacPhail Family Wines are still not widely distributed but can be obtained directly from the winery:  tel. 707-433-4780.  Visitors to Sonoma County are encouraged to stop by MacPhail’s new tasting room in Sebastapol (shown here).

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