Thursday, May 24, 2012
For me, I've been stuck on California Pinot Noir for a couple years. And it's unclear how long it will be before I come up for air.
Within California Pinot, there seems to be a battle between lean and ripe. Between producing nuanced wines that let the vineyards speak for themselves vs. aiming to produce blockbuster wines. Within this dichotomy, even after reading several articles, it was unclear to me where Kutch Wines fits in.
38 year old Jamie Kutch worked on Wall Street before cashing in and pursuing his dream of producing wine. After being impressed with wines from producers like Kosta Browne and A.P. Vin he reached out to them for guidance - and was welcomed with open arms. A far cry from the competitive financial world he left behind.
He got his start producing wines at Kosta Browne so you'd think his style would run towards ripeness. But you'd be wrong. After producing the 2005 vintage at KB he set out on his own and developed a minimalist philosophy which favors earlier picking. But like Michael Browne he prefers to keep racking -- the transfer of wine from one container to another to remove sediment -- to a minimum. The result can be a tremendous creamy, velvety mouthfeel. But only if you can still produce a wine with good clarity and avoid rotten egg aromas from dead yeast along the way.
When I hear about California producers aiming for balance I sometimes fear they'll go too far. That the wines will be under-ripe and hard to enjoy. My favorite producers find that intersection between pure fruit flavors, the right amount of ripeness, and ultimately find a way to produce a delicious enjoyable glass of wine.
Kutch only produces Pinot Noir from Sonoma at this point. The appelation wines -- from the Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley -- retail for $39. The single vineyard wines sell for $50. But good luck finding them at retail. Considering the modest production levels and the quality here I think these wines a good value.
The best way to buy them is by spending a couple years on their mailing list. I've been on the list about a year so far. No dice. Thankfully a friend shared a couple bottles of his recent allocation. Here are my notes on one of their 2010s:
2010 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
240 Cases produced
There's a purity of fruit and freshness here that's tremendously appealing. Light-medium bodied visually with perfectly ripe strawberries dominant and supporting tart cherry notes. It's subtle, but along with mild orange peel notes, supporting herabaceous aromatics and flavors add a perfect touch of earthy compleixty. Not an off note in the bottle. I like this. A lot. A tremendous introduction to the producer.
93/100 WWP: Outstanding
- Check out this excellent article on Jamie Kutch's story in Enterpreneur
- This 2009 article on Vinography charts Kutch's rise from wine forum contributor to winemaker