Dutton-Goldfield 2016 Pinot Noir: Whoa Nelly!
I recently sampled ten Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir wines from the 2016 vintage and was awed that every single
wine in the lineup was superb.. Year in and year out, the team of winemaker Dan Goldfield and winegrower
Steve Dutton produces wines of consistent excellence so this tasting was no surprise. As a group, this lineup of
Pinot Noirs was the best I have ever tasted from Dutton-Goldfield.
Steve Dutton is a fifth-generation farmer whose father Warren Dutton pioneered the growing of grapes in the
western reaches of the Russian River Valley in the mid-1960s. Steve joined the Dutton Ranch team full-time in
1987 and now manages the family business that has grown to over 80 vineyards comprising more than 1,000
acres throughout the western Russian River Valley. Dutton-Goldfield does not source grapes exclusively from
Dutton Ranch vineyards but these vineyards form the core of the lineup.
Winemaker Dan Goldfield gained his reputation for Burgundian-focused wines while working at La Crema and
later Hartford Court. He joined Steve on a handshake in a vineyard in 1998 and they established a winery that
today is among California’s best producers of cool climate varietals. His winemaking regimen for Pinot Noir is
explained fully in the “In the Cellar with Dan” section of the website at www.duttongoldfield.com.
Unlike the single cooperage Pinot Noir wines of Soliste reviewed in this issue, the Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir
wines are vinified using an array of barrels for each of the single-vineyard wines. Dan purchased barrels from
nine different coopers for the 2015 vintage. The Pinot Noirs often undergo a spring “rack and back” to choose
the barrel array for the final aging of the wines.
The Dutton-Goldfield Tasting Room in Graton is open daily, offering several tasting experiences that can be
booked online. In the Tasting Room, the winery just celebrated its 20th anniversary with a Harvest Party. Many
of the wines are available for purchase on the winery’s website. Magnums are available.
The wines reviewed here represent the nine 2016 single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and one blended Pinot Noir
called Deviate. The Docker Hill Vineyard in Comptche in Mendocino County is a new addition to the Dutton-
Goldfield lineup. Dan looks for exotic vineyard sites farmed by people with unique personalities and this
addition fit that goal.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Angel Camp Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.55,
370 cases, $58. Sourced from a 11.5-acre vineyard located west of Philo on a knoll overlooking the Navarro
River and valley. Clones “828,” 667, and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, open-top cofermentation
of clones, aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the
glass. The nose opens slowly in the glass to reveal pleasing aromas of dark red cherry and black raspberry
fruits with prominent spice. Bold, yet polished and easily approachable, featuring mid weight flavors of
boysenberry, black cherry and spice. A moderately firm tannic backbone adds needed support for the lush fruit
load. Nicely composed, with a grand finish filled with black cherry fruit.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Azaya Ranch Vineyard Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.58, 246 cases,
$62. This Marin County vineyard was planted by Mark
Pasternak for the McEvoy family. Clones 667, “828,” and
115. Great natural acidity is a hallmark of this site. 100%
de-stemmed, 7-day cold soak, open-top fermentation.
Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Easy to find superlatives for
this beauty that offers enticing aromas of blueberry, blackberry,
pomegranate, spice and rose petal aromas. Plush and engaging on the
palate in a mid weight plus style feature a gorgeous array of fruits
including blueberry, blackberry and raspberry. This wine has impressive
harmony, freshness and vibrancy that draw the drinker back to the
glass. Simply sublime.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.57, 395
cases, $72. A steep, terraced vineyard owned and farmed by Mark Pasternak. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold
soak, open-top fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
A Burgundian nose of earth,
mulch, potpourri and meat. An array of dark fruits including blackberry and black current show up on the
satisfying mid palate and finish. Silken in texture, with melded tannins, finishing long with an earthbound fruit
fragrance. Tasted two days later, the fruit aromatics were just beginning to arrive.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Docker Hill Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.58,
264 cases, $68. Vineyard planted in 2010 to a variety of Dijon and heritage clones. This bottling contains
clones “828,” Pommard and Swan selection. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, open-top co-fermentation of
clones. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels, 45% new.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Leading off are
aromas of black cherry, blackberry and underbrush and peat. There is a noticeable redwood forest tone to the
black cherry and black raspberry fruits offered in a middleweight style. Sleek and silky, with a modestly firm
tannic spine, and finishing with a forest floor fragrance.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch - Emerald Ridge Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.58, 798 cases, $62. Vineyard planted by Steve
Dutton in 2001. Clones “828,” Pommard, 2A, and 667. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, opentop
fermentation of clonal blocks separately. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas of blackberry preserves and forest floor lead to vigorous
mid weight flavors of earth-kissed purple and black berry fruits. The supportive oak chimes in with
a hint of toast, spice and savory tobacco. The wine offers a glossy mouthfeel with integrated
tannins and a perfumed, cherry-fueled finish. Wines like this are a blessing.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Fox Den Vineyard Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH
3.51, TA 0.57, 767 cases, $62. The vineyard is located on the western border of Green Valley and just above
the town of Occidental. Goldridge sandy loam soil is very sandy leading to low vigor vines and slow ripening.
Dan Goldfield and Steve Dutton planted this 8-acre vineyard in 2002. Clones 667, 777 and 115. 100% destemmed,
5-day cold soak, open-top fermentation of clones separately. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels,
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, raspberry, vanilla, baking spices and
Thanksgiving kitchen lead off. Lightest in weight of all the 2016 single vineyard wines, yet packed with fleshy
flavors of cherry, raspberry and spice with gentle oak treatment. Silky in the mouth with gracious tannins and a
lively, lip-smacking finish.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch - Freestone Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.54, TA 0.62, 627 cases, $72. This vineyard is located in the extreme southwestern corner of the
Russian River Valley on the coastal side of the Petaluma wind gap at the climatic margin for ripening grapes.
Planted in 1996 and 1997 above the little town of Freestone. Tiny grape berries with thick skins produce highly
concentrated wines. A combination of the 1996 planting of 115, 2A and 114 co-fermented and the 1997 planting
of 667. Although fermented separately, the two blocks were blended soon after draining. No press wine in this
blend. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, open-top fermentation. Aged 17 months in French oak barrels,
Dark garnet color in the glass. A big wine with graceful intentions offering aromas of fertile earth,
spice, boysenberry and blackberry. Full-bodied flavors of sappy purple and black fruits flood the mouth with
goodness. There are tones of earth and iron in the background. The supportive oak and tannins keep the wine
sleek and honorable. The bodacious fruit shows uncommon persistence on the finish.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield McDougall Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.64, TA 0.55, 392 cases, $62. The vineyard sits on a ridge at 1,100 feet neighboring
Hirsch and Martinelli vineyards. 9-acres planted to two Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed, 7-day cold
soak, open-top fermentation. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Dark garnet color in
the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh black raspberry, black cherry, vanilla and fertile earth. The black
cherry and boysenberry fruits show impressive phenolic ripeness in this mid weight plus styled
wine. The fruit seems to grab hold of the palate on attack and refuse to let go on the finish. The
balance is impeccable with envious integration of oak, and the overall impression is delight.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Redwood Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.60, 502 cases, $62.
The 32-acre Putnam Vineyard is located in the Annapolis
area of the far Sonoma Coast six miles from the Pacific
Ocean. The site is above the fog line and surrounded by
giant redwoods native to the area. The combination of
gravelly soil and deficit irrigation leads to low yielding vines
producing thick-skinned, small berries and concentrated flavors. 100%
de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, open-top fermentation. Aged 17 months
in French oak barrels, 55% new.
Dark garnet color in the glass. I loved
the intriguing nose of Bing cherry, exotic spice, clove, and woodsy
perfume. This delicious beauty makes you sit up in your chair. Luscious
mid weight flavors of boysenberry, black cherry and briar are
complimented by gracious tannins and invigorating acidity. The oak is deftly positioned, the elegant composure
is alluring, and the finish is like a Hollywood movie you never want to end. The epitome of Pinot Noir.
2016 Dutton-Goldfield Deviate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.59, 499
cases, $72. A blend of grapes from Jentoft Vineyard in Green Valley planted to the Calera clone by
Steve Dutton in 2003, and Putnam Vineyard near Annapolis on the far Sonoma Coast. 100% destemmed,
5-day cold soak, open-top fermentation. Aged 15 months in French oak barrels, 55%
Dark garnet color in the glass. A message of quality is clear in this wine that leads off with
aromas of black cherry, wine cave and nutty oak. Expansive, mouth filling purple and black berry
fruits engage the mid palate with purpose and persist through a very long finish. There is just a kiss
of oak, a touch of spice, and a subtle smoky thread. The tannins are invisible and the overall impression is one
of harmony. Even better when tasted two days after opening.