By Rusty Gaffney
Although new domestic winery openings have slowed since 2008, I continue to discover new entries producing Pinot Noir every week. Tasting rooms continue to open at a furious pace. I read a report recently that urban tasting rooms do not perform as well as winery tasting rooms in terms of sales. That said, a winery has no choice if they don’t have an appealing winery with its own incorporated tasting room.
Alma Fria (Holtermann Family Wines), Sebastopol, CA
After three generations in the wine import business. the Jan Holtermann found roots in the remote ridge tops of Annapolis on the West Sonoma Coast, committed to producing premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.Alma Fria means “the soul of the family” and/or “the cold of a geography.” The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list at www.almafria.com. Recently, Carroll Kemp, former owner and winemaker at Red Car, has joined Jan, his good friend, at Alma Fria as partner and winemaker.
2015 Alma Fria Plural Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 300 cases, $40. Native fermentation, 10% whole cluster, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Hints of whole cluster are revealed in the nose that shows aromas of cherry, rose petal, spice and pipe smoke. The mid weight flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and tobacco are welcome and supported by filigree tannins, but the acid is out of balance in this wine. The vibrant finish is bitter and woody as well as tasting of pink grapefruit. Score: 87
2015 Alma Fria Doña Margarita Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 172 cases, $62. Vineyard planted in 2002 in Freestone at 500-625 feet elevation. 15% whole cluster, wild yeast fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Nice whole cluster imprint on the nose with aromas of dark cherry, exotic spices and pine sap. Slightly plush in the mouth in a mid weight plus style offering delicious flavors of black cherry, blueberry, cardamom spice and dried herbs. Adept harmony with fully integrated tannins and proper uplifting acidity on the juicy finish. I liked this wine. Score: 93
2015 Alma Fria Holtermann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., 95 cases, $62. Vineyard planted in Annapolis in 2002 at 700-800 feet elevation. 15% whole cluster, wild yeast fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Entirely different aromatic profile from Dona Margarita Vineyard, offering aromas of earthy flora, mushroom, nutty oak and purple and black fruits. A feral, savory wine that speaks of the earth and forest. Mid weight plus fruit flavors of black raspberry and blackberry framed by modest tannins, finish on a feral note. Score: 92
2015 Alma Fria Plural Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.4% alc., 180 cases, $40. Native yeast fermentation, aged 12 months in neutral French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Lean citrus aromas along with more penetrating aromas of dried apple, pear and white flower blossom. Bright in the mouth with leaner, yet appealing flavors of green apple, pear and white grape. Excellent friendliness, with spirited acidity and a taut finish. An edgy wine that is stylish and sophisticated. Exceptional at this price point. Score: 93
2015 Alma Fria Campbell Ranch Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
13.3% alc., 95 cases, $50. Vines planted in 2008 in Annapolis at 750 feet elevation. Wild yeast fermentation, aged in French oak barrels, 10% new. Native yeast fermentation, aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Richly perfumed with aromas of lemon creme, pie crust and custard. Lighter and leaner in style with vivacious acidity, offering flavors of green apple, lemon-lime and a hint of tangerine and caramel. Only the slightest tannin in the background and a finish if grandeur that leaves persistent aromatic memories and quenching acidity. Score: 93