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The Nickel Family (Far Niente, Dolce and Nickel & Nickel) entered the Pinot game with the release of the 2007 EnRoute Les Pommiers Russian River Pinot Noir. Nickel & Nickel had experimented with Pinot Noir since the aq1980s and had quietly been producing a string of vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs in small quantities from the Dutton Ranch’s Manzana Vineyard and Spring Hill Vineyard in Petaluma. The success of these wines led to the establishment of a new label and winery exclusively devoted to Pinot Noir. The name is a nod to the history of apple growing in the area.
The partners bought an old apple orchard and planted 21.5 acres to clones 115, 777, Pommard 5, Mt. Eden, Swan, and 2A (christened the Graton Vineyard), and acquired the 22-acre Amber Ridge Vineyard which is composed of clones 115, 667, 777, Pommard 5. The 2007 EnRoute Pinot Noir was primarily sourced from Manzana Vineyard, but beginning in 2008, the EnRoute Pinot Noir was sourced from the two estate vineyards and a small amount of Manzana Vineyard.
The winemaker is Andrew Delos, a former assistant winemaker at Nickel & Nickel who previously worked with Russian River Valley fruit at Pellegrini Family Vineyards. Until a new winery is built, the EnRoute Pinot Noir is being produced in another winery facility in Graton.
The winery’s art deco label is among the smartest labels I have ever seen. The EnRoute Pinot Noir is highly allocated to a mailing list with limited restaurant and retail distribution. Annual production is about 5,500 cases. To acquire, visit the website.
2013 EnRoute Les Pommiers Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $70. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Quintessential Russian River Valley Pinot Noir featuring aromas and flavors of Bing cherries. Fairly bold, with integrated tea-like tannins, generous but not intrusive oak seasoning, and a juicy finish replete with sweet black cherry and dark berry fruits. Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »
2009 En Route Les Pommiers Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $60. From the partners of Far Niente. A blend of grapes from Graton Vineyard, Amber Ridge Vineyard and Manzana Vineyard and includes Pommard 5 clone, a variety of Dijon clones, and heritage selections. Andrew Delos is the winemaker. Aged 11 months in 50% new, 35% once-used and 15% twice-used French oak barrels. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Lovely array of aromas including Bing cherries, strawberry shortcake, sandalwood and vanillin. Medium weighted flavors of fresh redder cherries and berries with supportive oak in the background carrying through to the finish. A seamless and elegant wine with supple tannins and easy approachability although further cellaring will allow for better integration of the oak. Source: mailing list and retail. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2008 En Route Les Pommiers Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $45. Founded by the partners of Far Niente. A blend of Manzana Vineyard and Graton Vineyard in Green Valley and Amber Ridge Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Clones are Pommard 5, Dijon and heritage. Aged 11 months in 55% new and 45% once-used French oak barrels. · Medium ruby color in the glass. The nose is reluctant initially, offering more charm the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Aromas of strawberries, cherries, and spice particularly oregano. The kirsch and berry core strikes a chord with its vivid and juicy character accented by notes of baking spices, brioche and smoky oak. Admirable harmony with fine grain dusty tannins and a fruit-filled finish. Not quite up to the excellent 2007 vintage of this wine but solid. Very good. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »
2007 EnRoute Les Pommiers Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 1,200 cases, $50. This wine is named for the apple orchards that once flourished in the Russian River Valley. Primarily Manzana Vineyard fruit, clones 114, 115 and Pommard 5 with a small amount of Sonoma Coast fruit. · Terrific nose showing off hi-pitched aromas of Bing cherries and raspberries with hints of oak-induced vanilla and spice. In the mouth, this wine has that lush cherry fruit the Russian River Valley is so noted for augmented by notes of cola and brown spices. The tannins are ripe and supple, and the smooth texture is captivating. An impressive debut that delivers a panoply of Pinot pleasure. Reviewed October 29, 2009 ARTICLE »