Wine Last Sold on: December 1, 2008
Martin Alfaro Wines
2006 Schultze Family Vineyard Pinot Noir
|Vineyard:||Schultze Family Vineyard|
|Region:||California: Santa Cruz County|
|Total Allocation:||Extremely Limited!|
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The Winery Says:
About This Wine:
Medium ruby color; Aromas of red raspberries, cherries, and spice. Silky texture with excellent tannin and acid balance.
Garys’ Vineyard is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA . The Santa Lucia Highlands is a raised bench of land that overlooks the Salinas Valley, due west of the town of Gonzales. It is an interesting viticultural area because of the strong winds that consistently blow in off the Monterey Bay every afternoon, which cool the vineyards and prolong the grapes hang-time. A collaboration between Gary Pisoni and Gary Franscioni, this 42 acre vineyard is planted to the Pisoni clone of Pinot Noir, a selection from the Côte de Nuits district of Burgundy.
The long cool growing season allowed the wine to develop full ripe fruit flavors while retaining excellent natural acidity. Cool conditions throughout the harvest season allowed us to pick the fruit at the moment of optimal maturity.
The grapes were 100% de-stemmed and lightly crushed into small open-topped fermenters. The must was chilled to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and cold soaked for four to six days.. According to traditional methods, punch downs are performed daily by hand. After fermentation the wine was pressed off directly into French oak barrels where it underwent malo-lactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months on the lees.
About The Winery:
About The Winemaker:
Joseph Martin – After graduation from the U.C. Davis department of Viticulture and Enology with a BS degree in Fermentation Science in 1985, Joseph Martin embarked on a journey to discover his place in the world of wine. Being a 23 year old recent university graduate who was perhaps overly schooled in the theoretical and not that well versed in the practical; he took a position with Nielsen Brothers Wine Shop in Carmel, CA to learn about the consumer end of the wine business. After tasting all the wines that were available to him, Joseph was introduced to French red Burgundies and something clicked.
Joseph left the wine shop and traveled to France where he was able to land a temporary harvest position with Dennis Bachelet in Gevery Chambertin. Upon returning to California in 1986 he went to work in the cellar at Edna Valley Vineyard, in San Luis Obispo, California. At Edna Valley he had the pleasure of working directly under Chalone founder Richard Graff, who was acting as winemaker during Joseph’s tenure. Graff’s minimalist and non-interventionist approach to wine making mirrored that of the Burgundians After a couple of years in the cellar at Edna Valley, Joseph got itchy feet again and with Winemaker Steven Dooley’s blessings and recommendation he took a winemaking position at the Chittering Estate, a start-up winery near Perth, Western Australia. Upon completion of the Australian wine harvest, Joseph returned to California and took a position with Durney Vineyard, located in Carmel Valley, near his childhood home on the Monterey Peninsula. At Durney he got to work with Richard Graff’s brother, Peter Watson-Graf, who was responsible for many of Chalone Winery’s early successes. After leaving Durney Joseph was hired on at Newton Vineyard, in Saint Helena, CA where he was part of John Kongsgaard’s all-star winemaking team that included Rudy Von Strasser and Dean Sylvester. In 1991, Joseph left Newton to pursue a graduate degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering at San Jose State University.
After graduation from with an MS from SJSU, Joseph worked in the Semiconductor Equipment and Software and Services industries for a few years, but the allure of the wine business was too strong. After several successful batches of garage Pinot Noir with friend and now partner Richard Alfaro, they decided to start a small winery dedicated to the production of small-lot single vineyard Pinot Noir. Martin Alfaro Wines was founded in 2002.
Production: 100 Cases
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The Wine Spies Say:
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Its no secret, we LOVE Martin Alfaro Pinot Noir. We have been blessed to have brought you two stunning examples prior to this today’s even better Pinot Noir. This is the best so far, so if you love those others, you’ll be blown away by this wine
FINAL AVAILABILITY ALERT!
We managed to abscond with the final available cases in the world for today’s remarkable wine
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Mission Codename: Small lot’s, big hearts
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Martin Alfaro
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Martin Alfaro
Wine Subject: 2006 Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir
Winemakers: Joseph Martin and Richard Alfaro
Our Operatives love Martin Alfaro Pinot Noir. We feel the same way, which is why we were thrilled to be able to get our hands on the final remaining cases of today’s limited production Schultze Vineyard Pinot Noir from our good friends at Martin Alfaro.
The Santa Cruz mountains, just North of Monterey (another great Pinot-producing region), are home to a small handful of lucky growers and producers. Pinot Noir grown in the region tend to be more concentrated and robust, with character that is more Burgundian than Californian. Today’s wine is the best Santa Cruz wine we have had the pleasure to taste! Agent Red was dispatched, once again, to visit with Joe Martin, the engineer-turned-winemaker, who has earned a reputation for exceptional wines of beauty and refinement. Read Agent Red’s mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This unfiltered and unfined wine has the appearance of cherry juice, running from ruby red to slightly brickish concentrated color to the wine’s pink edges. when swirled, the wine appears springy, but settles quickly, leaving behind evenly-space skinny legs that emerge quickly and then streak down the glass
Smell – Fantastical aromas that rush from the glass and into your soul! Present here in big, even proportions are bright red cherries, raspberries, dried rose petal, cigar box, mushroom. These are followed soon after by a unique and mild Asian spice
Feel – Feather-light, velvet-smooth and slightly round, this wine starts cool and soft and then medium tannins take hold at the top of the tongue and inside the cheeks
Taste – Incredibly delicious, with bright fruits that echo the nose. Add to this additional flavors of earthen minerals, stems, truffle and slightest tar
Finish – Ultra long, starting slightly tart and dry – then, sweet flavors and spice emerge as flavors tail off slowly
Conclusion – Prepare to be blown away, Pinot lover. This wine is an elegant, Burgundian treat, with intense aromas a flavors that hold it all in check – without overpowering your senses. This wine has a deeply aromatic nose and brightly balanced flavors that make it a super stand-alone sipper. The bright acidity lends it to pairing with grilled meats, pasta, strong cheeses and more. If you love Martin Alfaro wines, you will love this wine!Enjoy now, or cellar for up to 5 years.
The following mission report was submitted by Agent Red when he first investigated Martin Alfaro’s Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir.
Today’s wine, while from the famous Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the California Central Coast sub-appelation of the Santa Lucia Highlands, is neither Sleepy nor Hollow. Rather, this is a wine that presents exciting flavors, deep aromas and and exciting feel.
With so many great Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir being produced, I knew that finding the finest was going to be a distinct challenge.
Never one to shy away from a difficult mission, I rounded up several bottles from different producers and then called on my local assets – and fellow Agents – to convene for a private blind tasting.
Numbered bottles, wrapped in brown paper, and lined up neatly on our tasting table, I poured the wines and the tasting began.
I introduced the wines by saying only that they were Pinot Noir – nothing else was revealed. I wanted to see if any of those present possessed a palate that was attuned enough to tell me which region or even sub-region the wines came from.
We sipped and discussed the qualities of each wine, taking notes throughout. After we had tasted through all of them, we took a break for a nice meal. An hour or so later, we revisited the line-up. As expected, some of the wines really softened, and the fruit, previously tight or even buried, really emerged.
Once this second run-through was complete, I gave each participant a score card and asked them to secretly rank each wine. For extra credit, I invited them to guess at the appellation.
As I tabulated the scores, a clear winner emerged. Wine #7, by unanimous decision, had swept the tasting. Interestingly, most at the table were able to identify the appellation, and one even guessed at the very vineyard!
And what was wine #7? You guessed it correctly, dear Operative. The 2006 Pinot Noir from Martin Alfaro was our champion of the night.
Winemaker Joe Martin and co-conspirator Richard Alfaro make great wines, and they could not be nicer people! Nor could they be more experienced at the art of winemaking – particularly with making wines from grapes grown in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
If you’ve never had a Santa Lucia Highlands PN, you really owe it to yourself to try today’s great offering from our newest friends at Martin Alfaro Wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Schultze Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.