2020 Gearhead 'Lockdown' Pinot Noir
Region: Sonoma Coast < California
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; 50% of the fruit got 3-4 day cold soak of whole clusters before the ferment started, no treading CO2 or dry ice added and 17 days carbonic fermentation; 50% was tread with punch downs, then both lots were pressed together after 12 days and rested for 2 months before bottling, unfined/unfiltered, with no added So2; zero-zero; 14% ABV; 120 cases
Winemaker: Craig West
Our buddy Noel of Purity turned us on to his buddy, Craig West, who makes wine at Noel’s Richmond facility for his upstart natural wine label, Gearhead. Craig was a fisherman and a baker for Acme Bread, but when he met Noel and started helping him with production, he decided that this was his calling and pivoted to wine. Now he makes tiny lots of wine from organic farming, all foot tread, many with carbonic maceration, all sans sulfur, and all sporting creative label art drawn by Craig’s 10-year old daughter.
Here, Craig sourced some Pinot from the same Sonoma Gap winery from which we got the Pinot grapes for Pop Rocks. Craig says: Everyone was worried about smoke taint from the Sonoma Gap vineyard Pinot. I said f^* it let's ferment her carbonic!
For the label, my wife found this paint by numbers painting that was so cool I had the idea to put an N95 on it and call it Lockdown!"
We first tasted a barrel sample of this wine a few months ago, and I found it crunchy, a bit spicy, with a strong forest floor thing. I told Craig he should call it Gnome Pinot. It totally reminded me of forest gnome juice. The name and label he choose is pretty cool and on-point, but to me, this still tastes like gnome juice -- super earthy, with wild forest berries and a distinct mushroom thing. The fruit is warm and generous, and feels like the wine equivalent of a cozy fire.