La Follette Wines

Owner(s) Greg La Follette
Web site www.lafollettewines.com
 
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La Follette Wines

La Follette Wines is newer winery which morphed from Tandem after it was purchased by Wine Creek LLC, focused on Pinot Noir from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma (DuNah, Van der Kamp and Sangiacomo's Robert's Road) and Mendocino (Manchester Ridge) county launched in the summer of 2010. The first wines, including Chardonnay, were from the 2008 vintage and were priced in the $30 (a Sonoma Coast blend) to $50 (Manchester Ridge) range.

For 2009, there are four vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs. A stated goal is to make the wines more affordable than other hand-crafted California wines of a similar pedigree.

The new label is from an illustration found in a rare first edition French manual on viticulture published in 1847.

La Follette has had a remarkable winemaking career, characterized by a deep study of the science behind the art of winemaking. His unparalleled understanding of yeast - specifically, how different yeasts affect the mouth feel and flavors of the finished wine - is a defining aspect of his winemaking talent. He tends to favor the use of significant whole clusters in fermenting his Pinot Noirs.

Small lots of Chardonnay will also be produced from many of the same vineyards sourced for Pinot Noir plus Lorenzo Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. A taste at home sampling of 50ml bottles is available. Join the mailing list for special wine offerings.

A new tasting experience was announced in 2014. Visitors can have an in-depth barrel tasting adventure with winemaker Greg La Follette. La Follette hosts guests at his barrel aging cellar where samples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are tasted, followed by a visit to the tasting room at The Barlow in Sebastopol for a tasting of finished wines. The Barrel to Bottle Tour costs $55 per person and is available by appointment. 707-827-4933.

Reviewed Wines

2011 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.9% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.60, 536 cases,$ 40. Dijon 777, 114 and Swan clones grown in the Sangiacomo Vineyard located on Robert’s Road in the Petaluma Gap. Indigenous yeast, fermented in open-top, modified dairy tanks. Aged 10 months in French oak. · Medium garnet color in the glass. Deep cherry aromas with a note of savory herbs and prominent oak presence. Lovely core of dark cherry fruit with a touch of spice and plenty of oak. The wine is juicy, with soft tannins and some finishing intensity. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had transformed showing more fruit expression with much better integration of oak. I would decant this wine if you plan to drink now, or preferably, cellar it for another year to allow the oak to mitigate and the appealing fruit to elevate. Score: 90. Reviewed August 14, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.5% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.66, 510 cases, $38. This vineyard is managed by thirdgeneration farmers, brothers Mike and Steve Sangiacomo with their brother-inlaw, Mike Pucci. Planted in 1998, and located in the Petaluma Gap, the Robert’s Road block is rooted in alluvial soils with tracks of gravel. The vines are farmed to La Follette’s specifications. The clone is Old Wente. Crafted in a reductive style. In 2011, ripening was difficult, so low other Sangiacomo blocks were used to build the trademark richness of this wine. Native primary and secondary fermentations. Aged 10 months sur lie with early bâttonage. · Light golden straw color and clear in the glass. Perfumed aromas of grapefruit pith, lemon, honey, yeasty brioche and popcorn. Delicious on entry and finish with an appealing array of flavors including lemon, green apple, baking spices, even clove, crème brûlée and toasty oak. Very silky and engaging with impeccable balance. Score: 92. Reviewed July 21, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 La Follette Van Der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Meunier

14.2% alc., 94 cases, $37. At 1400 feet, one of the oldest Pinot Meunier plantings in California. Whole cluster fermentation, raised 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Rustic, very restrained aromas of dark raspberry, tobacco and tea leaves. Much more appealing on the palate with a hardy core of plum, black raspberry, black grape, cola and spice flavors with a faint note of smoke and tar in the background. Well-managed tannins with bright acidity on the finish where the fruit returns repeatedly for an encore. Good (+). Reviewed February 27, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 La Follette Lorenzo Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

14.3% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.584, 100 cases, $38. Crafted in a classic California style from old Russian River Valley vines. The vineyard was planted in 1974 by John Bazzano who named it after his Italian grandfather. The 10-acre site enjoys cooling fog in the mornings and evenings during the growing season. Fruit pressed whole cluster with juice sent directly to barrel. Stirred bi-weekly through January and them monthly until July. Composed of a heritage Chardonnay clone. · Light straw color and clear in the glass. Reserved scent of golden apple, pear, lemon, chalk dust and oak. Flavorful core of citrus, baked pear, and spiced apple, with complimentary oak notes of brioche and toast. Somewhat rich, slightly creamy in texture, finishing with a bright cut of lemony flavor on the finish. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.63, 560 cases, $38. From the cold climate Petaluma Gap. Planted in 1998, the Roberts Road block is rooted in the alluvial soils of Copeland Creek with tracks of gravel. Predominantly Old Wente selection. Made in a Burgundian reductive style with native yeasts. Aged 10 months sur lie with gentle stirring of the barrels. · Light straw color in the glass. Complex perfume of lemon curd, petrichor, Asian pear, ripe pineapple, roasted hazelnuts, and subtle oak. Delicious flavors of baked pear, citrus, and green apple, with perfectly integrated and supportive oak. Juicy and spirited, making you reach for another sip. La Follette is a master of Chardonnay. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

15.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.61, 480 cases, $39.99. Planted in 1998, this vineyard is located in the Petaluma Gap and is farmed by brothers Mike and Steve Sangiacomo and brother-in-law Mike Pucci. Clones 777, 114 and Swan. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berry jam, toasty oak and graham, becoming more fruity over time in the glass. Moderately dense core of ripe, sappy dark red berry fruit with under notes of oak char. The mouth feel is remarkably velvety and the wine is quite suave. Fruit intensity accelerates over time in the glass. Needs time to integrate the imposing oak. Good. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Van Der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.64, 429 cases, $39.99. The Van Der Kamp Vineyard sits at 1,400 feet above sea level overlooking the hamlet of Kenwood. The soil types include loam with volcanic material and decomposed river bed. Six clones are planted, dry-farmed, and cared for with organic treatments. Some whole cluster fermentation. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Subtle, but pleasing perfume of dark red fruits, spice, musk and oak. Remarkably flavored with an array of dark red stone fruits and berries matched perfectly with a firm backbone of ripe, dusty tannins. Very long in the mouth and juicy. This venerable vineyard delivers a unique old vine mountain experience. Very good (+). Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $40. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Oak-kissed deep red and well-spiced cherry aromas. Crisp and elegant with an appealing dark cherry core, lashed with plenty of oak-driven notes of toast and coffee. A little too much oak for me personally, but crafted well in its style. A bit hot on the finish as it warms in the glass. More oak integration was evident the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle indicating more cellaring will be beneficial. Very good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.60, 499 cases, $48. Three clones: Dijon 76, Old Wente, and the newer Dijon 809. Clones vinified separately. De-stemmed, crushed and skins held in contact with the juice for a number of hours to increase aromatics. Native fermentation for Old Wente and 76 clones. Inoculated with a yeast that heightens the perfume of the 809 clone. Aged sur lies with early battonage. Bottled unfiltered. · Light straw color in the glass. Aromas of damp forest floor, baked pear, papaya and light caramel. Intense flavors of white peach, pear, and lemon drop with an underlying earthiness and minerality. Slightly creamy with bright acidity, barely perceptible tannins, and a bold, long finish. The richness, complexity and length really challenge the senses. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Dunah Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.72, 207 cases, $49.99. This vineyard is located at the southwestern outpost of the Russian River Valley appellation. The 10- acre vineyard was established in 1998 in Goldridge soil. Clones 115, 667 and Pommard. 100% de-stemmed. · Very darkly colored in the glass. Fruity nose offering appealing scents of black cherries and blackberry jam with a hint of wood spice and smoke. Densely fruited on the palate with a mix of dark red berries accented by oak-driven flavors of tar and tobacco. Soft in the mouth with well-managed firm tannins and tangy acidity on the finish. More sinewy Sonoma Coast than Russian River Valley in character. Needs time to integrate the oak, but will always be an oaky wine as evidenced by the prominent oak features one day after opening. Decent. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.74, TA 0.59, 494 cases, $49.99. This vineyard is located at 2,000 foot elevation overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The vines are rooted in decomposed sandstone. The relatively cool summer allows the fruit a long hang time. Clones 777, 115 and 114. 45% whole cluster. Bottled unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Exotic perfume of purple rose petals, mushrooms, musk, frambiose and subtle oak. Hard to take your nose away from the glass. Delicious medium-weighted core of black raspberry and black cherry fruit clings to all reaches of the mouth, and persists with a vengeance on the aromatic finish. There are complimentary notes of cola and oak-driven mocha that add interest. Very satiny on the palate. I continue to be impressed by wines from this vineyard. Flat out beautiful. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $40. · Golden straw color in the glass. Very restrained nose with demure aromas of white peaches, straw and smoke. Light in weight (seems filtered), bright in acidity, with shallow fruit flavors and notes of vanilla cream and burnt toast. Sadly impugned by smoke taint. Decent at best. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $40. · Moderately intense reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose wants for fruit, featuring instead primarily smoke and ash aromas. Smoky and tarry cherry flavors that are slightly tart and fail to satisfy. A disappointing wine with fruit that never really surfaces and is overshadowed by a brisk acidity. Unsatisfactory. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »