Gundlach Bundschu

Owner(s) Jeff Bundschu, Jim Bundschu
Web site
Link to this site

Gundlach Bundschu was known primarily for their red wines - Merlot, Cabernet, and Zinfandel - which were respectable, but Pinot Noir was an afterthought. A pivotal moment came in 1997, when the winery acquired 140 acres adjacent to their existing vineyard. Jim and son Jeff agreed at this point that they needed to raise their wine quality ambitions as they began the development and integration of this new property. Phil Freese and Zelma Long were hired in 2000 to assist in development of a master transition plan for the vineyard. In 2001, the vineyard and cellar management practices were overhauled. More than 150 acres of the estate have been planted over the last 10 years, including 25 acres of Pommard 5, Dijon 115, 667, and 777 clones of Pinot Noir on the valley floor. Rhinefarm Vineyard now has 320 acres under vine, farmed in more than 50 distinct blocks.

Total production at Gundlach Bundschu has been reduced from 75,000 cases to approximately 45,000 cases (25,000-35,000 cases of estate wine and the rest under the winery’s second label, Bearitage).

This is part of the new commitment to quality estate wine production and the desire to leave behind wines whose quality no longer meet the winery’s standard. Gundlach Bundschu has partnered with Wilson Daniels to enhance distribution and marketing. Despite the new committment to quality, the Pinot Noirs from the estate that I have tasted have been mediocre.

In 2008, Gundlach Bundschu is celebrating 150 years, California's oldest family-owned winery. The tasting room at 2000 Denmark Street in Sonoma is open daily 11:00-4:30. Cave and vineyard tours are available by appointment (707-938-5277).

Reviewed Wines

2011 Gundlach Bundschu Heritage Selection Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., pH 3.83, TA 0.56, 308 cases, $N/A (allocation only). Released March 2014. Grapes are from the Bundschu family‚Äôs 150+year-old vineyard located on the southwestern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, eight miles north of San Pablo Bay. Huichica clay loam with gravel deposits. Two distinct blocks of 40+year-old Heritage vines were harvested and vinified separately for this limited barrel selection bottling. 7-day cold soak, indigenous yeast and malolactic, partially fermented in upright open-top French oak puncheons, aged 14 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Effusive aromas of black cherry, blueberry, rose petal and spice rub. Striking flavor attack on entry with plenty of dark cherry and black raspberry fruit that really pops! Hints of anise, black tea and nuts from supportive oak add interest. Very soothing in texture with balanced fine-grain tannins and a drawn out finish. A unique, nuanced wine that changes constantly in the glass. An argument for old vine Heritage clones. Score: 94. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.58, 2,212 cases, $37. Released August 2013. Eight distinct blocks of Pinot Noir harvested separately from the Estate Vineyard located on the southwestern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, 8 miles north of San Pablo Bay. 20% of the blend comes from over 40-year-old heritage selections and 80% is Dijon clones 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, 5 to 7-day cold soak, indigenous and RC212 yeast strains. Gentle pump overs avoiding pumping skins and seeds, aged 10 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Love the nose with its expressive aromas of fresh cherries, strawberries, rose petals and leather glove. Tasty core of red cherry and strawberry fruits with complimentary oak spice in the background. Noticeable mid palate intensity with a rich finish. This is a streamlined wine that is silky soft in the mouth and easy to like. Score: 90. Reviewed September 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

14.2% alc., pH 3.48, TA 0.67, 3,018 cases, $27. Released March 2012. From two blocks of 40+year-old Wente selections and two blocks of Robert Young clone. Yields 2.8 tons per acre. Whole cluster pressed, 80% barrel fermented and 20% stainless steel fermented, indigenous and inoculated yeasts, weekly battonage, no malolactic fermentation, aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barrels. · Light straw color in the glass. Clean aromas of golden apple, lemon, yeast and nasturtium. Polished and crisp, with flavors of apple, Asian pear, malted milk and toast, with an appealing underpinning of minerality. Impeccable balance, on-point focus and refreshing to drink. Very good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., pH 3.88, TA 0.59, 3,080 cases, $35. 8 blocks harvested separately. Heritage, 115, 667 and 777. 100% de-stemmed, 5-7-day cold soak, indigenous and RC21`2 yeast strains, aged 10 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Accessible nose with aromas of roasted stone fruits, candied rose and vanilla. Veers to the extreme end of ripeness with flavors of black cherries, dark berries and currants, backed by a hint of oak,displaying fine-grain tannins and a dry finish. Decent. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2005 Gundlach-Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 4,900 cases, $38. Clones are Pommard 5 and Dijon 115, average vine age 16 years, yields 1.8 tons/acre. This year the winery is celebrating its 150th anniversary (1858-2008). Website: · A middleweight with a green vegetal note in the nose. Heavily oaked fruit. Decent acidity on the slightly bitter finish. Reviewed April 7, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 3,318 cases, $32. The 2004 vintage, the 146th harvest on Rhinefarm, was the earliest on record. Two-thirds of the fruit came from vines planted in 1970 (one of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in California) consisting of Wente and Hanzell clonal selections. The other third came from vines planted in 1999 consisting of Dijon 115 and Pommard 5 clones. Winemaking included pre-fermentation cold soak, twice-daily gentle pumpovers, and aging for 11 months in 40% new Tonnellerie Remond oak barrels. · There is noticeable, but not obtrusive, oak influence in this refreshingly crisp Pinot Noir. Scents of cherries and herbs are accompanied by tastes of savory berries, black cherry and clove. Sleek and balanced, the wine finishes clean with fine dusty tannins and uplifting verve. Reviewed November 27, 2006 ARTICLE »