Fritz Underground Winery
2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
California: Russian River Valley (Sonoma)
What we say
EXCEPTIONAL WINE ALERT:
Today’s exceptional Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Fritz Underground Winery is not only an instant classic but one of the best Pinot’s we’ve tasted in this price range all year. A great wine to serve on any occasion!
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Mission Codename: Underground and undercover
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure a limited allocation of of the latest Pinot Noir Vintage from our friends at Fritz Underground Winery.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fritz Underground Winery
Wine Subject: 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Brad Longton
Backgrounder: We first discovered the Fritz Underground Winery in 2008. Back then, we were lucky to get our hands on an allotment of their spectacular wines. We now enjoy a special relationship with Fritz, who allows us special access to limited quantities of their wines.
The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the Russian River Valley nearly perfect for cultivating Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby red with glistening streaks of ruby that shine through its heart when held to the light. Along the edges the color lightens only slightly, then shows ruby-pink at the very edge and when swirled, randomly spaced thin legs with fat tear-drop heads .
Smell – Layers and layers of red fruit including cherry, raspberry and even a touch of strawberry blends with sweet and brown spice, earthly undertones and hints of vanilla toast. Underneath the classic Pinot nose lies a hint of cola and a touch of smokey tobacco to add complexity.
Feel – Round and smooth, this medium-bodied dry wine has plush tannins and lively but balanced acidity to hold on to the fruit. Its earthy undertones also make an appearance with just a hint additional texture.
Taste – As indicated by the nose, this wine has lush and youthful ripe red fruit that glides over the palate while the other complex flavors of earth, spice, cola and the hints of smoke, cigar box tobacco and vanilla toast.
Finish – Very clean and medium long in length, this wine gently glides over the palate and fades elegantly leaving behind hints of strawberry and other red fruit, spice, earth and its other complex flavors.
Conclusion – The 2009 Fritz Underground Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a lovely, plush and very easy to drink Pinot with classic aromas and flavors that are packing into a well structured but very approachable and smooth mouth feel. A great wine to pair with more delicate and even fatty foods like grilled duck or pate. Enjoy this wine now or cellar for the next three to five years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Brad Longton
WINE EDUCATION: Self-Educated. Growing up in Perth, Australia, I became interested in wine while working at a wine retail store as a young adult. I originally started reading about winemaking so I could broaden my knowledge and increase my sales, but soon realized that I was drawn to winemaking as a career. Not soon after, I took a cellar job with Brown Brothers winery in Victoria, Australia and was quickly immersed in the production of Riesling, Chardonnay and Syrah.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: In an effort to expand my winemaking experience and exposure to other wine regions of the world, I traveled to Sonoma County in 2000 to work in the cellar at Murphy-Goode Winery and later at Clos du Bois. I returned to Australia in 2002 to take a position at Amberley Estates in Margaret River. However, in 2003, I moved back to California to take up a position at Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, before moving to Fritz Winery in 2005.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: My aim is to craft wines that exemplify the distinct attributes of the exceptional Terroir that they come from.
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Brad. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BRAD: Hi, Agent White. It is great to be working with The Wine Spies, again!
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BRAD: Growing up in Australia, I was inspired by wines that were being produced in my “backyard.”
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BRAD: I am influenced by a wine that is created with a minimalist approach.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
BRAD: I try to create wines that can be appreciated by a variety of consumers.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BRAD: Honestly this Pinot is tasting great. It has beautiful balance. This Pinot is made from 3 clones: Pommard, 115 and 113. Black fruit aromas lead into subtle hints of tobacco. Flavors of Bing cherry, rhubarb and savory spices are finished with cocoa powder.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BRAD: Dijon crusted Roasted Rack of Lamb.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley so very special for Pinot N?
BRAD: Russian River Valley has become famous for Pinot Noir. It exhibits the perfect growing conditions that are needed, including the unique Gold Ridge Dust soil. The vineyard that we source the grapes from is located in Sebastopol.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BRAD: We just finished bottling our coveted Rose along with our Estate and Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blancs.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BRAD: Have our wines with the company of good food and great friends. Our wines can be savored now or can be aged for years to come.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BRAD: Thank you for supporting Fritz Underground Winery! Cheers!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Fritz Underground Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Best In Class – San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Burgundy in color, this Pinot Noir offers aromas of black fruit and tobacco. With balanced acidity and rich texture, this wine is full of cherry and rhubarb flavors with savory spices and finishes with elegant, lingering tannins.
Winemaker Notes: The fruit was de-stemmed only so that whole berries were transferred to open top fermenters, to help capture bright fruit aromas and flavors. After 5 days of a cold soak the tanks were warmed which allowed the juice to ferment naturally. The tanks were punched down 2-3 times per day for 10 days allowing skin contact for color and flavor extraction. The wine was the drained off the skins and placed in 40% New French barrels.
About The Winery:
Pretend that you are far away in the Northern California wine country tucked away in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County. High upon a hill nestled into the side of a hill is our subterranean winery. Jay and Barbara Fritz purchased this pristine property in 1970. After spending get away weekends from San Francisco at this rich Sonoma property for many years, the Fritz family decided to build a winery in 1979.
Today our credo is to approach winemaking as an art form. Art, in its truest sense, inspires a shift in consciousness. Our mission is to create wines of genuine artistry, capable of transforming the way we think about the potential of Sonoma County’s premier appellations.
The new generation of Fritz wines began with a commitment to unequivocal quality. Since 1996, changes at Fritz Winery have been swift and dramatic: Volume has been slashed by two-thirds to only 12,000 cases per vintage. New winemaking equipment is both esoteric and state-of-the-art. An underground cave ages all red wines. The vast majority of wines are vinified on native yeast. All white wines are currently single-vineyard designates, with red wines now in barrel soon to follow suit.
The result? Cognoscenti now rank Fritz wines among California’s top tier producers. Our limited edition wines now command a following among serious collectors. One hundred per cent of Fritz wines are sold on allocation. And the best is yet to come.
Keep in mind that our vineyards are our greatest asset. Like the most celebrated wines of France, our limited edition single-vineyard wines showcase the singular expression of each superb viticultural site.
From the perfect microclimate of the Dry Creek Valley, we produce Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since we have the best of both worlds, we also have property in the very cool growing region of the Russian River Valley where we produce world class single vineyard Chardonnays.
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Varietal: Pinot Noir