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Road 31 Wine Co.

As noted in a recent PinotFile, owner/winemaker Kent Fortner has changed the name of his label from Green Truck Cellars to Road 31 Wine Co. As he says, “Same guy, same truck, (same dog), same wine ... new name!” There just seems to be way too many truck labels anyway (there is a White Truck and a Red Truck). Kent says that he was doing some family research in his hometown in Kansas last fall when he saw a sign posted to a gravel road, “Road 31.” This road ambled past his grandparents’ homestead in Kansas. Kent’s ‘66 green Ford truck willed to him by his late grandfather traveled Road 31 frequently. He decided to make the name change, but retained the picture of his green truck on the label.

Kent has now been crafting Pinot Noir on his own for seven years. He crafts his Pinot Noir in cave space made available to him by friends who live in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa Valley. The 2006 vintage is his current release. The wine is a blend from four vineyards at the southern mouth of the Napa River: Stanly Ranch (clone 115), Nord (114), Suscot Ridge (Pommard), and Poseidon. He described the vintage as delicate and elegant and said that he approached his winemaking appropriately. Both Budapesti Kadar (Hungary) and Mercurey (France) oak barrels were used for aging. Kent feels the wine will hit its stride about the time of the holidays of 2008 and will be quite good for another four years after that.

2006 Road 31 Wine Co Napa Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 950 cases, $39. · Shy fruit on the nose with Hungarian oak and herbal scents. Soft and demure red fruits with a slight green edge. The velvety texture is quite appealing and the wine is nicely balanced. This wine has everything in place but is just not ready for prime time. I suspect the fruit will emerge with resolution of the vegan aspect in another six months. The high quality of older vintages tasted recently would indicate that patience is required.

2004 Green Truck Cellars Napa Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 650 cases, $36. Three vineyards (Nord, Suscol Ridge, Stanly Ranch) and four clones. · Terrific nose of ripe berry jam and Asian spices. Lovely berry fruit in the mouth which is clean, lush and spicy. Everything is working beautifully in harmony, with a deft touch of oak and refreshing acidity on the finish. Impeccably balanced and outstanding in every way.

2003 Green Truck Cellars Napa Valley Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 500 cases, $35. · Deep, dark crimson robe. Complex aromas of black cherry, wet oak, spearmint, herbs and minerals. Dusty dark red fruit with subtle oak, iodine, and mushroom overtones. Silky in texture with brisk acidity and mild dirty tannins.

Road 31 Wine Co Pinot Noir is sold primarily to “truckers” on the mailing list. The website is www.road31.com and the phone is 707-649-1200. The 2006 vintage is sold out at winery but is available through retail channels. Tasting is by appointment. An excellent “plog” is sent to mailing list customers.

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