Ehren Jordan and Anne-Marie Failla are the husband and wife team that produces superb handcrafted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Viognier at Failla (FAY-la). We review their recent releases of the 2013 vintage, including several vineyard-designated bottlings from the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River, and their estate Failla vineyard in Fort Ross Seaview.
Pinot Noir represents some 70% of Failla’s total production and consists of several vineyard designated bottlings from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River as well as estate bottlings from the Failla vineyard in Fort Ross Seaview. Ehren and Anne-Marie have their own winery and charming tasting lodge on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. Ehren is a talented winemaker (and pilot), and his passion for producing top quality and distinctive wines shines through in these wines
Ehren produces his Chardonnays following a hands-off regime consisting of native yeast fermentations, full native malolactic fermentation, whole cluster pressing, and no use of SO2 until the wines go dry in the Spring. He does not stir the wines in barrel and does not fine or filter his wines. He is also minimalist when it come to oak, preferring large format barrels, either neutral or up to 25% new oak, and he uses concrete eggs. His single vineyard Chardonnays are all aged for 11 months on the lees.
The reds are also crafted following a standard regime consisting of native yeast, full native malolactic fermentation and no SO2 on the crushpad. His punch downs are gentle, and he uses a basket press. He does no stirring, racking fining or filtering. His single vineyard wines include 5-10% whole clusters and 25-30% new French oak for 12 months.
The wines reviewed here are highly refined with good purity of flavor, yet they have a sense of place. They show the benefits of California’s coastal climate and soils for producing top quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Failla 2013 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast ($34) 91 The Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is gold straw in color and offers aromas of melon, citrus, herbs and raw oak. It has a lovely mouth feel with rich lemon like fruit, a creamy texture, well integrated oak, and a crisp firm finish. 2000 cases produced. Failla 2013 Chardonnay Estate Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview ($44) 91 This Chardonnay is sourced from Failla’s estate vineyard in Fort-Ross-Seaview. It is nicely focused with freshness and brisk acidity on the front end, which includes notes of citrus and mango. It has a sleek texture with hints of minerality and a brisk finish. 345 cases. Failla 2013 Chardonnay Haynes Vineyard Coombsville ($58) 92 The 2013 Chardonnay Haynes Vineyard is a gorgeous wine from an outstanding, dry-farmed vineyard site with self-rooted vines. The Chardonnay from this site displays lovely orchard and stone fruit with floral hints on the nose. On the palate is has a lovely texture with good length and acidity and a firm crisp finish. One of the top Chardonnays in this formidable line up. Failla 2013 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard Napa Valley ($50) 91 The 2013 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard is sourced from one of the finest independent growers in Carneros. It displays lovely lemon curd on the nose with rich tropical fruit flavors on the palate and an elegant texture. It is refined and focused with good acidity and a crisp finish. 500 cases. Failla 2013 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($34) 92 The Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast is light and elegant on the nose with aromas of cherry and underbrush. It is soft and silky on the attack, light-bodied with good acidity and freshness and has a persistent flavorful finish. 3000 cases Failla 2013 Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley ($48) 92 The Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch is pleasantly aromatic and reveals ripe dark cherry flavors with notes of whole clusters and under brush. It is light-bodied on the palate with good acidity and freshness and a crisp persistent finish. Failla 2013 Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley ($58) 92 The Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard is a fragrant and delicate wine with aromas of ripe cherry and a hint of resin. Aged 11 months on the lees, it has a lovely texture and is rich in red fruit flavors. The tannins are soft and round and the finish, long and satisfying. 635 Cases Failla 2013 Syrah Hudson Vineyard Napa Valley ($56) 92 The 2013 Syrah Hudson Vineyard offers fragrant aromas of black berry fruit and violets. On the palate is displays pure fruit flavors with light toast and soft round tannins. The wine is 100% whole cluster-fermented, and spends 11 months on the lees after food treading. A gorgeous wine and regrettably only 325 cases made.
Reference: International Wine Review Report #44 The Wines of Sonoma County (Double Issue) November/December 2014