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Reuling Vineyard: Established Grower Debuts New Eponymous Pinot Noir

The 14.4-acre Reuling Vineyard in Forestville is familiar with those who are fans of Aubert Wines and Peter Michael Winery. Both wineries have sourced the vineyard’s grapes, and in the case of Aubert, single-vineyard-designated bottlings have been offered. The vineyard was planted in 2000 by owners Tim and Jackie Reuling with the help of Peter Michael Winery.

In 2011, the Reulings decided to keep all their own fruit and start their own brand. The first Pinot Noir, 500 cases from the 2011 vintage, and a Rosé from the 2012 vintage will be released in April 2013, and both a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be released in 2014. The Reulings plan to produce an elegantly styled Pinot Noir. A preview was offered at this year’s World of Pinot Noir in early March where I met the Reulings. They are very warm people and actively involved in the farming of their vineyard.

The Reulings originally planted the vineyard to 12.2 acres of Pinot Noir including three clones: Calera and two different “suitcase” clones from the Vosne-Romanée region of Burgundy. The 2.2-acres of Chardonnay are planted to budwood from the Montrachet vineyard in the Cote de Beaune. Goldridge soils are predominant at this site which is relatively warm but with cooling marine influences.

The Reulings enlisted Matthew Taylor, a dynamic winemaker who has quite a resume both in viticulture and winemaking expertise. Matt most recently worked at Araujo Estate Wines where he was both winemaker and vineyard manager. He currently oversees the Biodynamic® Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg where he grows vegetables, manages orchards, produces olive oil and wine. Matt’s passion for Pinot Noir first developed when he worked at Joseph Swan Vineyards and Domaine Dujac.

When I visited the Reuling Vineyard on a glorious sunny day in February, I toured the property and spent a delightful time with Matt over a glass of 2011 Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir. We talked about his reverence for the Joseph Swan property, his dedication to organic and Biodynamic® farming, his preference for whole cluster fermentation and the attributes it brings to wine, and his general winemaking philosophy for the Reuling wines.

He has instituted a number of measures in the Rueling vineyard to bring it into balance (the grapes tend to be lower in acidity than in neighboring vineyards, for example), but he considers the vineyard of high caliber with “gorgeous soils.” Very little irrigation is required with only a shot of water usually needed in August to get the grapes to the finish line. A permanent cover crop has been instituted to vitalize the soils.

Matt’s winemaking goals include bringing balance to the wines and allowing the vineyard to speak more in the wines while still retaining some richness. The Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noirs will not reflect the bold Aubert wines that were made from the vineyard using extended maceration and 100% new oak.

When I left Matt, and later met the Reulings, I was impressed by their approach and commitment. In fact, I was so taken by Matt’s background and goals, and the potential of this project, that I plan to buy some of the Reuling wines myself. I think this is reason enough to consider adding the wines to your cellar.

Reuling wines will be sold through a mailing list and sign ups are now accepted on the website at www.reulingvineyard.com.

2011 Reuling Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.78, TA 0.54, <500 cases, $70. 25% whole cluster. Aged 10 months in 40% new Remond French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Bright aromas of fresh black cherries, spice and refined oak. Delicious mid weight essence of dark stone fruits with a hint of cola, clove and black raspberry. Gentle tannins and a velvety texture make for easy drink ability. The appealing soft mouth feel is a trade off for lower acidity. Reminds me of a Volnay. Very good.

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