92 Points - Connoisseurs' Guide
Best Vintage Yet - James Laube, Wine Spectator
"Very Good" - PinotFile
The Sonoma Mountain AVA is a small wine-growing region just south of Bennett Valley and just west of Sonoma Valley, but its topography is quite different, resulting in a very different growing season. Where Bennett Valley funnels in fog from the coast, keeping it quite cold, and Sonoma Valley offers Western exposed hills and flat vineyards, making it quite warm, Sonoma Mountain offers a variety of exposures and elevations, making it harder to generalize about the climate. While Cabernet does well at the warmer sites, Sonoma Mountain Pinot can be extremely exciting when planted in a cooler site. Today’s wine from Willowbrook Cellars is just such a wine, sourced from the Kaufman Vineyard, which is planted exclusively to Pinot Noir.
The 2009 Willowbrook Kaufman-Sunnyslope Vineyard Pinot Noir is medium ruby to garnet in color, with a nose marrying classic Pinot aromas of cherry and blackberry with floral and baking spice undertones that are a hallmark of this vineyard. The palate is smooth and layered with cherry and berry flavors held together by an underlying minerality, hinting at iron. Spicy and juicy, this wine is incredibly well balanced, with wonderful persistence on the palate. For those that think terroir is the key to Pinot Noir, this one is sure to delight, as it beautifully shows off the unique characteristics of this Sonoma Mountain Vineyard.
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vineyard: Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard
Appellation: Sonoma Mountain
Fermentation: French Oak
Willowbrook started in 2001 as a dream of winemaker, Joe Otos, then 26 years old. This dream became reality after he teamed up with retired technology executives, John Tracy and Ed Sillari. Sillari and Tracy had recently moved to the wine country and had begun separately to explore opportunities to pursue their passion for wine. Sillari was involved in wine sales and Tracy had acquired a hilltop vineyard in Forestville. Their combined experiences were all the pieces needed to get Willowbrook Cellars started.
During the first few years production was limited to about 500 cases split between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Willowbrook began to increase its production of vineyard designate wines; seeking out interesting small vineyards each with its own microclimate and flavor profile.
Willowbrook Cellars wines may be found in gourmet restaurants and in specialty wine stores, but because of the small case production, most of the sales have been generated by word of mouth.
Learn more at www.willowbrookcellars.com.