When it comes to terroir expression, Etude Winery takes it global with their Appellation Series collection of Pinot Noir. Comprised of six bottles, the Appellation Series showcases different appellations across California, Oregon and New Zealand. And with the small variation of 12-13 months barrel aging, as well as new French oak ranging between 25-33% for each bottling, the winemaking techniques are both minimal and nearly the same across all six wines—making the terroir characteristics both easy to detect and easy to distinguish from one bottle to the next.
2014 Grace Benoist Ranch Pinot Noir | Carneros, California
Coming from the diverse appellation of Carneros with 13 different soil types, varying elevation and sun exposure, the Grace Boist Ranch Pinot is well balanced and full of charm. Aromas of fresh and tangy fruit abound, cranberry and orange zest, with a dash of incense spice. This Pinot is bright on the palate, too, with refreshing acidity and structure, blueberry notes leading into cranberry, cedar and a hint of barrel spice.
2014 Ellenbach Vineyard Pinot Noir | Sonoma Coast, California
The Ellenbach Vineyard sits above the fog line on California’s cold Sonoma Coast, just two miles from the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. Because the vineyard sits above the fog line, you can taste that sun exposure in the glass. There’s an abundance of rich red cherry and spices, while those cold nights and Pacific breeze maintain the wine’s acidity, creating a very robust but balanced Pinot.
2014 North Canyon Vineyard | Santa Maria Valley, California
In California’s Santa Barbara County, the North Canyon Vineyard finds its home in the east-to-west-facing Santa Maria Valley appellation. Cool Pacific breezes and fog sweep through the region, offering up Pinots with strong acidic structure and lots of freshness. This North Canyon Pinot Noir is dark and spice-filled on the nose with black cherry, chocolate-covered blueberries and clove scents. The palate is mouth-filling and very structured, with juicy blackberry fruit and lingering acidity. It’s a balanced wine and you can tell it will improve with cellar time.
2014 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir | Sta. Rita Hills, California
Another Santa Barbara County appellation, the Sta. Rita Hills is about ten miles from the Pacific Ocean and sees steady mid-70s temperatures. This region is one of the coolest wine-growing climates in California and offers up Pinots with more savory characteristics than their warmer climate counterparts. The aromas are rather Burgundian with hints of black tea, rose petals and forest floor; there’s also a brininess to it that hearkens to the oceanic influence. A denser mouthfeel with more tannin structure, the Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot shows vanilla-laced flavors of cherry and spice. Give this another year in bottle for the tannins to soften and the oak to find its synergy with the fruit.
2014 Yamhill Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir | Yamhill-Carlton District, Oregon
A sub-appellation of the well-known Willamette Valley, Yamhill-Carlton District boasts hillsides with a wide range of elevation between 200-1,00 feet, but the Yamhill Vista Vineyard is perfectly situated in the middle at 600 feet. Outside of the rain shadow, the site sees plenty of sunshine and that shows in the fruitiness of the wine’s aromatics. Full of plum and cherry, these fresh fruit aromas are juxtaposed against savory scents of tea and purple flowers. On the palate, this soft-textured wine brings forward cherry and cranberry in full force.
2014 Bannockburn Pinot Noir | Central Otago, New Zealand
Reaching halfway across the world, the Central Otago Bannockburn site in New Zealand completes the Appellation Series collection. The site is a bit warmer and drier than other parts of the appellation, and its continental climate offers a strong diurnal temperature range, making the perfect conditions for grapes to ripen slowly. There are aromas of black cherry and dark berries on the nose, while the the schist gravel soils bring about a beautiful texture and earthiness to the palate. Rich and full, there is a plumpness to the Bannockburn Pinot, with notes of spiced plums, blueberry and crushed rocks.