We were fortunate to be invited to the Pinotfest trade tasting November 21. We visited quite a few newcomers, some old favorites, and a few that we’d tried before but wanted to revisit. This is our Pinotfest 2014 two to watch — the best two that were new to us.
The biggest surprise was Ernest Vineyards. And they are true newcomers, producing their first vintage in 2012. Their wines are named whimsically but with a logic that is inescapable. We especially liked The Engineer and picked it for our best in show (but by a very narrow margin). Aromas of raspberries and cherries, flavors of maraschino cherries (without the sugar) explode on palate, dark fruit, tannins and spice on the finish. This wine is made from the Romanini vineyard grapes.
We were not as fond of Ernest’s The Wrangler. However, it lives up to its name, less refined and more rustic than The Engineer. Lots of mushroom and forest floor. The winery website says it will improve with age. We, of course, are not that patient.
Ernest Vineyards owners Todd Gottula and Erin Brooks have made their winery and wines an homage to their parentage. Ernest Gottula was Todd’s paternal grandfather and donated his first name to the winery. He was also a NASA engineer. The Engineer is named in honor of his profession. Similarly, Erin’s grandfather owned a ranch in Texas. The Wrangler is his contribution. There are three other wines that are chardonnays: The Bombardier, The Farmer, and The Jester. The last name is taken from Erin’s father who had a Tom Jones cover band.
Reuling’s first vintage was 2011. Their 2012 Sonoma Coast opens with brambleberry and lavender aromas followed by earth, tobacco, and spice. The finish is a lovely balance of acid and tannins.
Tim and Jackie Reuling met in pre-school in Morton, Illinois. They dated in junior high school, but went to universities about 2,000 miles apart. In 1978 they met by accident when they were in Illinois visiting their families. There is considerably more to the story, but we’ll save that for a longer piece in the future. We’re just very happy they decided to make pinot noir!