Once again Ehren Jordan and Anne-Marie Failla (FAY-la) have crafted an exciting collection of 2015 releases of both their flagship Failla brand of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah and Day, a relatively a new Zinfandel label.
2015 was a challenging vintage due to cool spring weather and hot and dry summer growing conditions both in Russian River Valley and on the Sonoma Coast. While yields were down, the wines are vibrant and show exceptional intensity of flavor. Moreover, in the hands of winemaker Ehren Jordan the wines, are elegant, focused and refined. They show the benefits of California’s Russian River and cool coastal climate and soils for producing top quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
We review here the stunning releases of the 2015 vintage, including several vineyard-designated bottlings from the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River, and the estate Failla vineyard in Fort Ross Seaview. Readers should keep in mind that Ehren is a winemaker who allows site, variety and vintage to define his wines.
Ehren produces his Chardonnays following a hands-off regime consisting of native yeast fermentations, full 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 on the lees.
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. The reds are also crafted using 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.
As we noted in our recent report California Zinfandel: A New Look, Day marks Ehren Jordon’s return to Zinfandel. After a long hiatus during which he focused on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Ehren is once again crafting first class Zinfandel, which he became known for years earlier while serving as winemaker for Larry Turley. The 2015 Zinfandel Diable Vineyard is especially noteworthy.
Failla 2015 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast ($34) 91+ A combination of estate grown and purchased fruit from neighboring vineyards, the Chardonnay Sonoma Coast displays a light yellow straw color and offers ripe citrus on the nose with hints of cured lemon and, green mango. It has a gorgeous mouth feel with a creamy attack, nice structure, and perfectly integrated oak. Beautiful wine
Failla 2015 Chardonnay Chuy Sonoma Valley ($58) 91 The Chardonnay Chuy Sonoma Valley offers aromas of pear tart, short bread and mango sherbet on the nose with hints of minerals. Aged 17 months in a combination of new French oak, stainless seel and concrete egg, it is juicy on the palate with dense yellow fruit flavors, and is nicely concentrated with good extract and a long finish.
Failla 2015 Chardonnay Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley ($45) 91+ The Chardonnay Keefer Ranch displays a medium yellow straw color and aromas of of mango, pear and stone fruit. It is broad and full in the mouth and reveals excellent balance on the palate with bright acidity. It Finishes clean with a nice stony mineral touch.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($36) 90+ The easy-drinking Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast offers a candied red pomegranate and raspberry nose. It is soft, fruit forward, with very pure red fruit on the palate, notes of sandalwood, fine firm tannins. good acidity and excellent balance.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview Estate Vineyard ($100) 92 The Fort Ross-Seaview Estate Vineyard is an organically farmed property sitting at 1400 feet elevation and just five miles from the Pacific Ocean. It produces wines that are rich-tasting and savory with hints of underbrush and herbs. Soft and mouth filling with layers of flavor, it displays pure red fruit, fine firm tannins, good acidity and a long finish.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($95) 93 The Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard is the epitome of cool climate California Pinot Noir. It is elegant and precise yet also somewhat brambly and rustic. On the palate it is silky smooth with excellent concentration of dark cherry and plum fruit. It is beautifully balanced with excellent acidity, round firm tannins and a long finish. A superb wine.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($80) 90+ Dark ruby red in color, the Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard offers spicy red fruit with touches of soy, charred mesquite dense pomegranate and plum aromas. It is big and soft on the attack with dark flavors, firm tannins and a dry finish.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Peay Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($70) 93 Peay Vineyard is among the coolest sites for growing grapes along the Sonoma Coast. Situated at 800 feet and four miles from the Pacific Ocean. it produces bold flavored earthy Pinot Noir with dark red fruit flavors and hints of herbs. It has a complex palate with a silky texture, interesting layers of flavors, firm tannins and a long finish.
Failla 2015 Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills ($60) 92 This delicious Pinot Noir is sourced from the volcanic soils of the dry-farmed Seven Springs Vineyard of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. The wine’s Pinot Noir clone is 100% Wadenswill which produces red cherry fruit with hints of pomegranate and raspberry. Ripe and full-flavored, the wine reveals nice purity, firm tannins and a medium finish.
Failla 2015 Syrah Estate Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview ($62) 92 This cool-climate Syrah from the Failla’s Estate Vineyard in Fort Ross Seaview exhibits freshness with purity of blue fruit, white pepper and hints of leather. It is soft and elegant on the palate with excellent balance and acidity, firm round tannins and a long finish.
Day 2015 Zinfandel Sonoma County ($27) 89 The Zinfandel Sonoma County is sourced from several vineyards in Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley. If us an easy drinking Zin offering aromas of black cherry and plum. It is light on the palate with youthful firm tannins and solid finish.
Day 2015 Zinfandel Del Diablo Vineyard Russian River Valley ($46) 91 The Zinfandel Del Diablo Vineyard is a rich tasting fruit forward wine from one of California’s finest old Zin and mixed black vineyards. It has an inky nose of pomegranate, black berry, licorice and smoke. It is unctuous and mouth fill with good density of flavor, lush firm tannins and a persistent finish.