Domaine Alfred Winery
2006 Califa Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir • Chamisal
California: San Luis Obispo: Edna Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: Eminent Domaine Alfred
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to reports of a superior Pinot Noir in the Edna Valley AVA. If reports are accurate, secure an ample allotment for our Pinot-loving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery:Domain Alfred
Wine Subject: 2006 Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyard Califa Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Fintan du Fresne
Backgrounder: Boasting one of the longest growing seasons in California, the cool climate Edna Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is well known for producing superior Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Planted in 1973, Domaine Alfred’s Chamisal Vineyard sits nearly dead-center within the region. Today, the vineyard produces what many consider to be the finest Pinot Noir in the region. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below for the full intel on today’s exciting Pinot Noir
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet with a bouncy surface that, when swirled, leaves behind an initial cascade of wide-spaced skinny legs. After a short interval, a second layer of skinny legs appears and then slowly makes its way down the edges of the glass
Smell – A lush rush of dark mixed berries, red raspberry, Bing cherry and plum lead the way, followed by soft spice, dark plum and smoky oak, with soft earth underneath
Feel – With medium weight on the entry, this wine has a balanced feel that is both bold and supple at the same time. After a moment, fine grain tannins appear, drying the edges of the palate and the cheeks
Taste – Bing cherry leads the way, followed by darker fruit with plum, cassis and ripe blackberry. Under these authentic fruit flavors, a smoky and earthen character add to the complexity of the wine
Finish – Bold and complex, with lingering fruit and smoky oak that tails off slowly
Conclusion – This is a wonderful Pinot Noir, made in a style that conjures thoughts that this wine presents a fusion of our favorite California and Oregon Pinot Noir. With great Cali fruit, and the earthen complexity of an Oregon Pinot, this wine shows great balance, a wonderful feel and big flavors. Pair this wine with almost anything as there is enough acidity in the wine to make it a great food companion. If you have never tried an Edna Valley Pinot, please accept our hearty recommendation of this great wine
Today’s mission puts us face to face with Fintan du Fresne, winemaker for Domain Alfred, Chamisal Vineyard. Enjoy Agent Red’s interview:
AGENT RED: Greetings, Fintan. We are thrilled to be showing your Califa Pinot Noir today and I am happy that you made some time to answer some questions for our Operatives. First off, can I ask you to please let us know how to pronounce your name?
FINTAN DU FRESNE: You can just call me Fin. It’s easier.
RED: Oaky, Fin. Tell me, was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
FINTAN: I grew up in New Zealand where my father is a prominent wine writer, so we always had a lot of excellent wine around.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
FINTAN: I learn a little more every day. I started my education with a Postgraduate degree in Viticulture and Enology and have worked for nine wineries in three different countries since then. Every winery and every vintage teaches you something new.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
FINTAN: To let the grapes express themselves. I don’t have a recipe or a standard operating procedure. I adapt our winemaking to suit every individual lot in terms of fermentation, extraction, oak treatment and aging.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
FINTAN: I worked with a winemaker by the name of Terry Culton at both Calera and Adelaida Cellars. He was definitely key in forming some of my techniques and opinions. However, you’ll find his winemaking style and mine are very different.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
FINTAN: Long enough. I’m pretty young, but I’ve been making wine my entire adult life. The drinking age in New Zealand is 18, so we can start a little younger there.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
FINTAN: I make wine for the consumer
RED: Tell me, what makes the Edna Valley so special?
FINTAN: Well, if there weren’t any hills in the way, I could see what the surf is like from the winery (the ocean is just a few miles away) and that really influences our climate. We also have some great calcareous shales that have washed down out of the Santa Lucia mountain range behind the winery. The soils in the best vineyard blocks are composed of this.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
FINTAN: Work in as many different regions, for as many different winemakers as you can and then decide which techniques and styles you want to use.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
FINTAN: Tasting, tasting and tasting. Getting ready to blend most of our 2008s.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
FINTAN: 2006 was a cooler vintage, so this wine shows a lot of red fruit and structure. It is a blend of Clones 777, 114, Pommard and a little bit of 943 (the newest Dijon clone). Fermented with native yeasts and 10% whole cluster. Aged in 50% new French oak for 14 months.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
FINTAN: I’m from New Zealand, so you guessed it; Lamb. Just steer clear of that Australian lamb.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
FINTAN: I don’t like Zinfandel.
RED: Interesting. What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
FINTAN: We drink a ton of aromatic whites from all over the world. For everyday drinking some of the white Rhone blends from the Southern Rhone or even the Languedoc are great.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
FINTAN: When tasting wine, don’t be concerned with the “details” like producer, region, vintage, scores or alcohol level. It comes down to one simple question that you should ask yourself all the time: “Do I enjoy this wine?” If so, it’s a good wine.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
FINTAN: Guigal La Landonne
RED: Yummy. What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
FINTAN: Which of my wines I like the most. The answer is the not-yet-released 2007 Califa Pinot Noir. Trust me, if you like the 06, the 07 will blow your mind.
RED: We’ll be sure to revisit the winery. We love to show off successive vintages! Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about wine Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
FINTAN: Hope you enjoy the wine!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Chamisal Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Domaine Alfred Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Opening with a generous, bold display of fresh, ripe red and black raspberries and dark plums in the nose and on the palate, the focused fruits are deftly balanced by smoky oak notes and the hints of complexity gained by whole-cluster handling. The already lengthy finish will continue to develop, powered by fine-grain tannins and classic Chamisal spice.
Harvest Notes: Global warming’s effects on grape growing can certainly make winemaking even more interesting….The Central Coast endured a cold and wet spring in 2006, which gave us a late bud-break, followed by a long cool growing season, and capped by a very late harvest. Natural low yields coupled with slow, consistent ripening produced brilliant fruit of great intensity and exceptional balance.
About The Winery:
Domaine Alfred winery creates award-winning wines from our celebrated Chamisal Vineyard, notably Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. These, and our other small-production wines listed here, are available for purchase online or by calling the Tasting Room at 805.541.9463.
To experience our wines, look for them in your local restaurants and retail store or come visit our Tasting Room, where you can sample our wines and learn more about our distinctive winery.
Vineyard – Chamisal Vineyard is the heart, not only of Domaine Alfred, but of Edna Valley. First planted in 1973, it was the first vineyard of the region and remains the premier producer of graceful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. The vineyard, centered on property that was an early Spanish land grant, is named for the original title, “place of the chemise,” a native scrub plant. Fortunately, both chemise and wine vines thrive in the poor soils and cool climate that is so similar to Burgundy.
History – Domaine Alfred’s 1998 inaugural vintage was from specially selected clones of classic varietals in the historic Chamisal Vineyard that was painstakingly replanted in 1996. Returning to the founding objective to create the best Chardonnay possible, the Wente clone of Chardonnay that had initially been planted was re-introduced early in the process. Domaine Alfred planted experimental plots of Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Gris over the next decade, producing successful and delicious results.
The cool climate of San Luis Obispo County’s Edna Valley gives us the advantage of long growing cycles combined with ideal soils and aspects. Through a balance of tradition and innovation, we can continue the 30-year history of excellence Chamisal Vineyard boasts, expressing the brilliant flavors unique to our vineyard and region.
About The Winemaker:
Winemaker Fintan du Fresne has brought a wealth of fine winemaking and growing experience to the winery with his first Domaine Alfred harvest in 2006. In addition to handling seven crushes in his native New Zealand, where he had earned graduate degrees in Geology and post graduate degrees in Viticulture and Enology, he has experienced California winemaking with stints at Adelaida and Calera wineries. He masterfully evokes the essence of Chamisal Vineyard in all our estate and Califa Reserve wines.
AVA: Edna Valley
Style: Domaine Alfred
Vineyard data: Organic & California-lite Biodynamic™ farming, high density planting, VSP trellising, aggressive shoot, leaf & fruit thinning.
Brix: 23-26 °
TA: 6.6 g/L
Picking dates: October 13th – October 30th
Handling: Night picked and hand sorted. 70% destemmed/30% whole cluster.
Yeast: Native, Assmanhausen.
Fermentation: 2-5 day cold soak followed by 7-10 day ferments in 4 and 7 ton open top fermenters. Two to three punch downs daily.
Clones: Pommard, 113, 114, 115, 777.
Cooperage/ageing: 13 months in French oak. 60% new oak.
Case Production: 630
Release date: 06/08