Halcón Oppenlander Pinot Noir 2018
- Medium bodied
There’s no shame in admitting you haven’t heard of Halcón before. This rising star of a cult producer from the Yorkville Highlands of Mendocino County (Mendo to locals) in Northern Cali lays claim to the highest-altitude vineyard in the region. The wind-lashed mountainous plot contains densely-planted vines grown in the same type of ancient shist soils that are found in Cote-Rôtie. Paul and Jackie Gordon, the team behind Halcón, are making arguably the closest thing to Rhône-style reds (and a bit of pinot noir) that can be found in North America (and doing it organically). These are rare wines that will reset your understanding of how much balance, nuance and complexity can come out of California wines.
While Halcón gets a lot of attention for their Rhóne-style reds, they also make some exceptional pinot noir. The Gordon’s utilise a blend of several clones, incorporating 75% whole cluster and only seasoned French oak. The red fruits are abundant in the wine, but the name of the game is texture. Think earthy, forest floor notes, coupled with smoked meats and chewy tannins that are achieved by bottling unfined and unfiltered. Antonio Galloni of Vinous offers a beautiful review below.
“The 2018 Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard is gracious and nicely lifted. Lavender, spice, dark blue/purplish fruit and mint are all nicely lifted in a mid-weight Pinot that offers an intriguing mix of forward fruit and Mendocino energy. Medium in body, with lovely energy, the 2018 Pinot is a winner.”
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Ah, Cali. You bring the world so many things. Route 66, Santa Monica, Big Sur (although I drove through at night without realising that one time... it was very dark), the Golden Gate Bridge. And oh the wine! Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles are some regions that come to mind, but that's just skimming the surface. From the big marques like Mondavi and Ridge to fringe pioneers like Sean Thackrey, there's as much wine to explore as there are sunsets to see and routes to cruise. Start here, then.