Medium ruby with a wide clear edge. Massive gritty spice, volatile and sudsy, fir sap, cumino and an evolution of briar commencing far down in the muddy root system up through shovel-tracks and scraped stems, broken with heavy boughs of soaked greenery. A warm caramel lurks behind, never going quite barnyard, always keeping a solid footing on rosy cherry and heirloom tomato.

This is not a light, bright wine. This is not a tap-dancing waif of fruit. Also, this is not a huge, jam-packed monster. But it’s a big, brooding Pinot. Well, I haven’t tasted it yet. This is me finally getting to the Pinot section of the Ancient Oak catalogue. One of those wineries I hesitated a bit before accepting. Wasn’t crazy about the name… The label isn’t much to look at… Had NEVER heard of them in my life… But their team credentials checked out and the wines looked properly made, and starting with the Zinfandel and Cab blends, moving into Chard, EVERYTHING has far exceeded expectations. This is a winery you literally could join the club, not make any additions or deletions, and get however-many bottles surprised on you and never regret a single one.

The nose is quite volatile in late breathing, and as I take my first sip, the pepper of the entry offers a cooling–but matching–juxtaposition. This is not a slight wine, I am sure, and would not be surprised if this thing was 29 proof. Beautiful fruit on the palate, thin cherry syrup and clean, streamlined middle-grounds where slight cola and the bitter crush of weeds and snuff cause acid to turn to sweltering fruit for relief. Peppery and slightly tannic, a little burn in the finish adds to my alcohol guess. But it’s not enough to dissuade me from liking this wine.

2017 ANCIENT OAK CELLAR Pinot Noir ‘Alcman’ Russian River Valley Sonoma Co. 14.4

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