A Gift from Santa… Santa Cruz that is!

For Christmas my sister in law Tesla and her husband Stefano brought us what turned out to be a fabulous Pinot Noir, from a local winery that is just down the road from their house in Santa Cruz, California. What they gave us was the 2004 McHenry Estate Bottled Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir. Their objective in buying this wine was to one, get us something that we had not had before and two, get us something from a local, small independent winery that they had been to.

The McHenry vineyard was originally planted in 1972 by Dean, Jane, Henry and Linda McHenry. The 2 acre non-irrigated vineyard sits at an 1800 ft elevation on Bonny Doon road just 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard consists of 4 Pinot Noir clones, 2 of which exist on their original root structures, instead of being grafted to virus-free root stock which is currently how most vines are planted.

According to Wine Spectator, on the whole, the 2004 vintage was a great year for Pinot Noir in the Santa Cruz area. The season started with a hot spell, that led to an early ripening of the grapes and produced deep concentrated flavors.

The 2004 McHenry Pinot Noir, of which only 320 cases were produced, is the 5th bottling from the Estate Vineyard that was replanted in 1997, after a majority of the vineyard was lost to Pierces Disease in 1992. The grapes for this 2004 beauty were harvested between August 28th and 30th after reaching an overall brix of 24.4 degrees. The wine was put through primary fermentation over a nine day period before going into Francois Freres French oak barrels for almost 24 months.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Plum, pomegranate, brussel sprouts, and acorn squash

Taste – Raspberry, green beans, coca cola, and earthy damp moss

Mouthfeel – silky smooth and extremely polished with light to medium body

Finish – Decent length, with a tingle of white pepper at the back of the tongue

I am starting to like Pinots more and more. I think this Pinot walked a perfect line between ones that I have tasted from Burgundy, that I wasn’t completely sure about and the over-the-top, fruit forward Pinots from California. It reminded me of a lot of the Pinots that I have had recently from the Willamette Valley, but definitely was much lighter in body and in color, which is usually a turn-off for me.

If you want to sample the Pinots from McHenry their tasting room is open during passport program events, the next one is January 19th. If you can make it to Santa Cruz, you can directly order a bottle or two from their website. I suggest you do, you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks again Tesla and Stefano! Cheers!




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Categories: McHenry, Pinot Noir, wine tasting | 1 Comment

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One thought on “A Gift from Santa… Santa Cruz that is!

  1. Santa Cruz has been kicking out some great wines lately. I haven’t been back there in a long time but I do know the owner of Pelican Ranch quite well. He makes some great wines down there.

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