I assume it’s news to no one that more California Pinot Noir producers than not have moved on from the fruit-driven bruisers that characterized so many wines, for so long, across so many AVAs. Same for Chardonnay: Winemakers might be painting similar pictures, but they are making their strokes with a finer set of brushes. In Sonoma of late, I’ve found an enduring sense of style, but everyone seems to have grown older and wiser. This tasty pinot from Ram’s Gate makes the case.
Linear, clean, fresh, modern—the 2018 Bush-Crispo ($75) is a tally of two different parcels in the same Russian River Valley vineyard, and two pinot clones, 115 and Pommard (not insignificantly, the first Davis clone planted in the Willamette). Sixteen months of age happen in 33% French new oak. 15% of the fermentation is whole cluster.
The wine displays as inky garnet with a promising, just-perceptible clear rim. Cocoa, coffee, vanilla, plus fresh and candied cherry are quickly detectable, giving way to satisfying notes of chalky stone, fresh fennel in a saline breeze, licorice, and charcuterie, with the new barrel elements pleasantly in the background.
Medium bodied, the palate is full of ripe cherry. Supple tannins and a deft, balancing acidity keep things running long. Sensations of power defer to sensations of balance. Throughout the entire experience of tasting, one repeatedly encounters evidence of craft, of a wine well-made. You might not quite forget that you’re drinking a rich California pinot, but it’s excellent juice all the same: Mature, properly dressed up, with restraint and finesse playing the parts previously taken by power and ripeness—which is to say, just what we want right now.