Only those dedicated Pinot drinkers with fat wallets can drink really good (and
usually expensive) Pinot Noir frequently. Most of us wish for a well-crafted,
artisanal, complex, thoroughly enjoyable Pinot that we can stock our cellar
proudly with at around a Jackson a bottle. Wishful thinking you say? Read on.
Aubin Cellars is an extension of Jérôme Aubin’s passion for wine and his years of
experience in the wine industry. He has imported French oak barrels from
Rousseau of Burgundy and Saint-Martin of Bordeaux for the last twelve years.
Aubin visits more than 250 wineries in the United States and Canada annually and
has developed a personal vision of the style of wine he wants to produce. A
number of years ago, he met Fred Scherrer when Fred was the winemaker at
Dehlinger, and Aubin helped him to run his barrel program. When Aubin founded
Aubin Cellars in 2001, he enlisted Scherrer to craft the initial four vintages of
Aubin Cellars Pinot Noir. I reviewed the 2002 Aubin Cellars Verve Russian River
Valley Pinot Noir in the PinotFile (Volume 4, Issue 16) and found it to be quite
good, “a Dehlinger knockoff worth seeking out.”
In 2005, Jerome Aubin decided to make his wine in Oakland near his residence
and enlisted the services of Loren Tayerle to make the wines. Tayerle’s background
includes training in Viticulture and Enology at University of California
Davis and Napa Valley College and winemaking positions at David Bruce Winery
and Rosenblum Cellars Scherrer crafted the 2004 Aubin Cellars Russian River Valley
Pinot Noir and Tayerle made the 2004 Aubin Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
In 2006, two tons of Pinot Noir were crushed in Oregon and added to the portfolio
of wines. A Columbia Valley (Washington State) Syrah is available now, and in
2007, there will be a California Syrah. The vineyard sources for the grapes for
Aubin Cellars wines cannot be revealed due to contractual obligations. Each of
the appellation wines are from two or three different vineyards to insure complexity
in the final blend.
The wines are made in very small lots (not exceeding 2 tons of grapes) in a very
hands-on fashion. 100% de-stemmed. Fermentation is carried out in small open
top stainless steel fermenters. The must is hand-pressed using a basket press.
The wines are aged an average of 17 months in 40% new French barrels (Rousseau
and Francois Freres). The wines are bottle aged six months before release.
The wines from Aubin Cellars are actually labeled “Verve.” This is a catchy noun that means energy
or vitality in the expression of artistic ideas. The labels also feature beautiful pieces of art which fits
the theme of creative enthusiasm nicely.
2004 Verve Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 150 cases, $22. 80% Sonoma Coast fruit from a
vineyard close to the Pacific Ocean and 20% Carneros Swan clone fruit. Vine
age averages six years. Harvested at average 25° Brix. The label artist is Michelle
Bonnetain of France.
This is an amazingly pure wine of great vim and
vigor. The nose is perfumed beautifully with cranberry, cherry, spice and vanilla
oak notes. There are more flavors here than Baskin Robbins: plump crushed
cherries, herb tea, mocha, and a little earthiness. My notes say excellent (which is
underlined) and that pretty much sums it up. A complete wine and the best California
Pinot Noir I have tasted this year for around $20. Jackson would be proud.
2004 Verve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 160 cases, $27. This
wine is from a premium vineyard in the Russian River Valley with vines
averaging ten years in age. Harvested at average 26° Brix. The label artist is
Gerard Schneider of France.
I love the aromatics which feature bright red cherries,
Xmas spices and a little bit of what the French call “ca sent la merde.” With
air time, the wine improves noticeably, the texture becoming smooth and the
cherry cola fruits explode on the palate. Medium-bodied and nicely balanced,
this Pinot finishes with lively acidity that is searching for some good food.
Aubin Cellars Verve, 6050 Colton Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611. The phone is 866-353-7398. The wine
may be purchased through the website at www.aubincellars.com. Retail distribution is primarily in
Northern California. There is a mailing list signup on the website.