Last November we introduced you to the Grace Family and their winery — Grace Patriot Wines, which sits at an elevation of 3,000 feet in the Apple Hill area of El Dorado County, California, near Placerville. Click here to read our original article, which featured three of Grace Patriot’s premium red wines. That review did not include a Pinot Noir, so when we recently had opportunity to taste the winery’s 2012 Estate Pinot we were intrigued — for a couple reasons.
First, the Grace’s are known for (and take pride in) a bold, assertive style of red wine — a style not typically associated with Pinot Noir, even in California (although some palates might disagree). Second, Pinot, known for being finicky about its climate and environs, is not commonly grown in the Sierra Foothills. The region is conventionally considered to be too hot — and sunlight at its high elevations too intense — for the variety during the summer months. Just a smattering of Foothills producers risk growing it, but the Graces have found some success with Pinot they source from a couple-acre block of 25 year-old, low-yielding vines that grow with Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc in challenging conditions on the outskirts of the estate. Fittingly, they call it their “estate coerced” Pinot Noir.
However out of the ordinary we presumed Grace Patriot’s 2012 Pinot Noir to be on any of these counts, it was actually something of a revelation. The wine is vividly aromatic, with suggestions of cherry preserve, eucalyptus, and dried strawberry on the nose; and on the palate are layered impressions of ripe boysenberry, cola, and dark chocolate, with whispers of rosemary and red grapefruit zest lending dimension over a long, silken finish. The wine is medium-bodied, with savory acidity and subtle oak — it spent 15 months in barrel. It is at once deftly balanced and bounteously expressive, with harmonious aromas, flavors, and textures. Winemaker Tyler Grace has crafted an El Dorado County Pinot Noir that hits all the right notes and is immensely pleasurable to drink. We are looking forward to future vintages.
Availability: The Graces hand craft their wines in small batches, and produced only 77 cases of their 2012 Pinot Noir. To inquire about this or other Grace Patriot wines, visit them virtually at www.gracepatriotwines.com or contact the tasting room at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-642-8424.