Freeman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2020
Twenty-twenty looked like it would be the third incredible vintage in a row after the prolific and spectacular 2018, and the smaller but equally wonderful 2019. Rainfall in the winter of 2020 was a bit below average and temperatures remained cold well into March, delaying bud break. May brought alternating warm and cold spells, which resulted in slightly below-average flowering and fruit set. Things looked very promising as we got into our normal June-August summer weather pattern. However, on August 17, California was hit with thousands of dry lightning strikes that sparked wildfires up and down the state. This included the very large Walbridge fire west of Healdsburg and Windsor, and the Meyers fire on the Sonoma Coast, near Jenner. The smoke from these two fires spread throughout Sonoma County and hovered over the vineyards for the next three weeks. When smoke gets into the skins of grapes, it has the potential to add a smoky, barbecued flavor to the fruit. Our Gloria Estate Pinot Noir was just about ready to be harvested when the fires broke out. We quickly sent samples to the laboratory, and the results showed no detectable smoke taint. Harvest started immediately after we received the good news, and we picked Gloria before the smoke had time to penetrate the grape skins. In all of the years that we’ve produced our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, the wine has been a blend of fruit from at least two vineyards. For 2020, we made it entirely from Gloria Estate fruit. The KR Ranch and Pratt vineyards—as well as our Sonoma Coast vineyards, including Yu-ki Estate—were too smoky to produce usable grapes. The 2020 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir shows a bright ruby color with aromas of fresh plums, red rope licorice, subtle oak, cedar and dried flowers. The wine has vibrant fruit on the palate, along with acidity and firm tannins reminiscent of a young red Burgundy. The wine’s long finish integrates all of these fruit and structural elements into a refreshing Pinot Noir that should be at its best from 2022 through 2032.