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Gros Ventre Cellars

Owner(s) Chris Pettinger, Sarah Pittenger
Web site www.grosventrecellars.com
 
Link to this site

A producer of small lot Pinot Noir from cool climate vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The inaugural releases came from the 2009 vintage (Baranoff Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and First Born Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir).

Chris and Sarah Pittenger launched the idea of this winery on the banks of Gros Ventre River in Jackson Hole where they met in 2003. They were to call Sarah's pregnant belly "Gros Ventre (French for "big belly") and soon thereafter name their wine brand for their son John Henry and the beautiful place they met.

Chris Pittenger spent time as a sommelier and developing his winemaking skills at wineries that include Biale, Torbreck, Williams Selyem, and Marcassin. The six vintages spent at these wineries gave him the knowledge to work with Pinot Noir.

The wines are available through the winery's online store.

Reviewed Wines

2011 Gros Ventre Baranoff Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 97 cases, $48. This vineyard is farmed by Paul Sloan of Small Vines. A 3-acre parcel located in the Laguna de Santa Rosa in Sebastopol, the vineyard is planted to high-density 4’ x 4’ spacing of 7 clones. This wine is a blend of the 7 clones (Calera, Swan, 113, 115, 459, 667, 777). Unfined and unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of black cherry liquor, cassis and bramble. Densely concentrated flavors of black cherries, black raspberries and cola with a bit of smoky oak showing up in the background and on the finish. Rather linear and bland now, the wine fails to reveal anything distinctive about its vineyard origins, but clearly shows its Russian River Valley origins. Revisit in 6 to 12 months. Score: 88. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Gros Ventre Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 176 cases, $48. Pommard 5 and Dijon 115. Aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Aromas of cola, spice and smoky oak lead to a rich palate of plum and blackberry fruit robed in smoky, tobacco-laced oak. Full-bodied, fruity and earthy with supportive tannins and well integrated acidity. Although not particularly expressive now and showing too much oak sheen, this wine may integrate and surprise with further cellaring. Score: 87. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Gros Ventre Campbell Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 110 cases, $54, sold out. Inaugural release from this vineyard located in Annapolis and managed by Ulises Valdez. Clones 115 and 777. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose becomes more expressive over time in the glass revealing aromas of dark berries, game, floral bouquet, and sweet mesquite smoke. Silky smooth on the palate with flowery black cherry, plum and spice flavors in a full-bodied style. The tannins are nicely balanced and the oak is well integrated. A slight vegetal undertone surfaces over time in the glass. Score: 88. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Gros Ventre First Born Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 155 cases, $58. A noticeable leap up in quality among the wines of this vintage. This is the winery’s flagship cuvée which is a barrel selection of the best lots of the vintage. This wine is dominated by fruit from a vineyard perched at 1,000 feet above sea level along the true Sonoma Coast in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Magnetic aromas of dark red fruits, spice and seasoned oak. Discreetly concentrated black cherry, plum, cola, dried herbs and toasty oak flavors wrapped in ripe, svelte tannins. Impressive balance with noteworthy finishing length and intensity. Still young, but sends a message. Score: 92. Reviewed December 18, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Gros Ventre Baranoff Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 50 cases, $44. From a 3-acre vineyard in the heart of Sebastopol. This wine is a blend of the 7 Pinot Noir clones on the site: Calera, Swan, 113, 115, 459, 667 and 777. The clones were co-fermented and aged together on their lees. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berries and black cherries with a hint of baking spices, oak and lavender. Even with decanting the wine is a bit closed, but opens some in the glass over time. Crisp and vivid core of Bing cherry and strawberry fruit with a swirl of cola and oak. Medium weighted with nice balance and finesse, and offering a lengthy finish. Drank beautifully two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. No hurry on this one. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Gros Ventre Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 151 cases, $44. A combination of Pommard 5 (one-third) and 2A (two-thirds) clones from this steeply sloped vineyard overlooking the Anderson Valley. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Brooding black fruits with a hint of sweet oak on the nose which opens slowly in the glass. Delicious core of perfectly ripe and well-bred black and purple Pinot fruits. A little savory, spicy and earthy. Ideal weight, balance and flavor intensity with a generous finish marked by brisk acidity. A complete wine that shows breeding. Decant if you open a bottle now, but patience will bring further rewards. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Gros Ventre Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 151 cases, $44. Pommard 5 and Wädenswil. 100% de-stemmed, native fermentations. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Well oaked with noticeable spice and savory accents. Generous purple fruit flavors with bright acidity on the elegant finish. Needs more time to integrate the oak. Very good (-). Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Gros Ventre First Born Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 101 cases, $50. A flagship cuveé representing the best lots of a vintage. This bottling is dominated by fruit sourced from an unnamed vineyard along the true Sonoma Coast. · Dark and densely colored in the glass. The nose leaps out from the glass with of scents of spiced black cherries, raspberries, plums and faint herbal oak. Rich and intense, saturating the palate with plush sweet fruits that find every nook and cranny in the mouth. Lively natural acidity maintains the wine’s vitality and supple tannins make for smooth, seductive drinking. This wine is a little too busty for me but it will find many fans. Decanting is obligatory. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »