2017 Kosta Brown Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Year: 2017
Appellation: Sonoma Coast
Country: USA - California
Wine Advocate: 92
James Suckling: 94
Jeb Dunnuck: 96
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.2%
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"The 2017 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast was aged for 10-17 months in 40% new French oak, 15% wood tanks and 6% concrete tanks. Medium ruby, it's broodily scented with black cherries, underbrush, pencil shavings and dried tobacco leaves with notions of spice and red berry sparks. Light to medium-bodied and earthy in the mouth, it has a pleasantly chalky frame and great juicy freshness, finishing long. 7,550 cases produced.

Kosta Browne harvested most of their fruit before the heat wave in 2017. “It was a mad dash, to be perfectly honest,” winemaker Julien Howsepian tells me. “Some of the fruit hung through the heat, but having begun sourcing from further western sites, we tend to have cooler microclimates than some other spots. Those cooler pockets were the best suited vineyards to survive the heat. We do have an optical sorter, so that was really important in 2017.”

Howsepian has been gradually introducing changes in the winery. “We have started picking a little bit earlier and looking for sites closer to the coast,” he says. He’s paying serious attention to the Chardonnay program, which began only in 2009. “Pinot Noir was always the king of Kosta Browne,” he notes, “But we knew we could do better when it came to Chardonnay. We wanted to be in the same conversation as the best Chardonnays in the world.” Filtering is being phased out for single-vineyard wines. “Filtering makes clearer wines, but I think it removes some of the soul and complexity. It takes away character and I don’t want to see all that hard work go down the drain.” Oak usage is changing as well. “We want to use oak as a support and not the lead, so we’re carefully choosing our selections, using lighter toast and larger formats.” Use of whole cluster is about 10% to 15% across the board.

The Observation Series is another new development—2016 was the first vintage for these special bottlings. “This is for special fruit that we find or want to show off,” Howsepian explains. “And they tend to change each year.” These wines will be available only to members. Kosta Browne currently sells about 6,000 cases in the market—the rest of the wines are sold direct to consumer and to members." (WA)

"Lots of the blue fruits and dried flowers on the nose. Oyster shell too. Medium to full body, linear and vibrant. Energetic. Clean and intense finish. Drink or hold." (JS)

"Moving to the two reds, the appellation 2017 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast reveals a ruby/purple, translucent color as well as a stunning perfume of black raspberries, cassis, crushed violets, spice box, sweet earth. It's rich, medium to full-bodied, has beautiful depth, a kiss of background oak, and a great finish. Mostly destemmed and aged 17 months in 40% new French oak, it's a brilliant wine to drink over the coming decade or more." (JD)

Winery Notes:
The Sonoma Coast appellation overlaps with Russian River Valley in many places and is similarly shaped by the ocean. Local geology can be complex here, a direct result of being located on the intersection of two tectonic plates. For this wine, we find ourselves drawn to vineyards that are particularly influenced by the Pacific Ocean and are fortunate to work with some spectacular sites. Together, they form a singular wine that is distinctively Sonoma Coast. The vineyards we source from lie in both the southern portion of the appellation and in the northern true coastal zone. In the southern area, the Petaluma Wind Gap and the San Pablo Bay drive cooler temperatures and provide us with deep flavors and richly textured wines. The vineyards from the coastal reaches contribute more of the savory and spice characteristics that we love as well as great structure and poise. In our second year working with the fruit, Marshall Ranch, in Sebastopol, again proved to be an excellent cornerstone for our Sonoma Coast blend, offering vibrant fruit, crisp color and racy, grounded acidity