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2019 Kendrick Loup Solitaire Pinot Noir

2019 Kendrick Loup Solitaire Pinot Noir

Region:  Petaluma Gap < Marin County < CA

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Vineyard/Cellar Stats:  Practicing organic, no till farming on loam soils at the Kendrick vineyard on the Marin side of the border with Sonoma; fruit is mostly de-stemmed, 12 days maceration, no cold soak or extended maceration; neutral barrel aging; bottled unfined/unfiltered with low added So2; 70 cases; 13% ABV

Winemaker: Stew Kendrick

Stewart Johnson farms the Kendric Johnson Vineyard on leased land just south of the Petaluma Gap, and makes the wine from this 8.5 acre vineyard he planted in 2002 and reaped the first harvest in 2004.  He might also be the brightest and most-educated winemaker around.  He graduated from UC Berkeley, obtained a doctorate in political science from Yale, and graduated with a law degree from Hastings. While interning at the EPA, he was drawn to be in the field instead of an office practicing law. And we're so happy that he pivoted, because we're loving Loup Solitaire, his newish second label that was born in 2019 because it was a high-yielding vintage and he wanted to use the surplus grapes to make a younger, more fun Pinot to drink now.

We'll let him explain: "This is the first vintage of my 2nd label Pinot. I was trying from the outset to make this wine distinctive from the more serious flagship Pinot -- more fruit forward, more red-fruited, less tannic, more approachable early. Basically, more vivacious and more affordable. So the Loup was picked a little earlier, mostly de-stemmed, fermented a little cooler, pressed earlier and barrel aged for a shorter period than my usual protocol. When I'm asked to compare and contrast the pinots, the answer that seems to resonate is that the Loup is the one you take on a picnic or drink on the deck.  The name (Lone Wolf, in English) is a bit of self-congratulation, referring to the fact that I'm about as close as it gets to being a solo-practioner in this field -- at least for someone doing both the farming and winemaking. For the label itself, I leaned on my friend-since-birth, Dan Kuffel, a one-time cartoonist and current HS Art Teacher. I asked for a New Yorker cartoon ripoff, but he kept scribbling away and we ended up here.  The fruit is from our estate vineyard on the Marina side of the Petaluma gap, with SF Bay on one side and Tomales Bay on the other.   We hand harvested the fruit at night and hauled it to my winery on Treasure Island. The fact that the grapes cross AVA lines to get to the winery prevents the use of the Estate Bottled designation."

But we don't care about things like "Estate Bottled" designation, because the wine is good.  Really good, so balanced and pretty and not at all jammy and fat like Sonoma Pinots can be.  It smells pretty and aromatic, and the palate bright, focused and tangy, with generous but balanced high-toned red fruit, earth, sour cherries and cherry cola.  The Loup is ready to go now, but it has the depth and balance to age nicely over the next few years.  So Pinot fans, stock up, as finding a low-intervention Cali Pinot this tasty and affordable is as rare as the lone wolf himself.
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