2016 RAEN Pinot Noir Royal St. Robert Sonoma Coast
Carlo and Dante Mondavi come by their intense passion for Pinot Noir about as honestly as it comes. It’s in their DNA. Dad Tim, of course, was Robert Mondavi’s younger son and the winemaking force at the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery from the day he walked out of school to the day the winery was sold. Although the winery never actually produced the kind of Pinot Noir that would stand with the best in the world as he had hoped, it was an all-consuming passion for Tim and the time and energy that went into the program dwarfed even their world-famous Cab program. And Tim’s two boys haven’t fallen far from the vine, so to speak. While Tim has created the next chapter of the Mondavi legacy with a Cabernet-based wine atop Pritchard Hill at Continuum, Carlo and Dante have looked to the coolest regions of California to produce a set of incredibly stylish, elegant Pinot Noirs that have turned the heads of even the most jaded Pinot-philes.
Sourced from several well-known sites near Freestone out near Bodega Bay, the mission here is to create wines that emphasize Burgundy-like finesse rather than California’s natural. Although in each vintage of RAEN I’ve tried to date, there is plenty of both. Bottled early as an added measure to preserve its freshness, this is one of the first major Pinot Noirs from the 2016 vintage we’ve tried. If they’re all this good, man, it’s going to be a marvelous ride. Savory and aromatic, this coasts along a vein of brilliant acidity into a pool of dark cherry-infused fruit with hints of exotic camphor and sandalwood, woodsy-piney notes and a nice hint of blood orange. Vosne-Romanee meets the Sonoma Coast here in this mid-weight beauty that is only beginning to stretch its muscles. Over the next six months I expect it to gain even more weight and take its place as the best of the three vintages of RAEN Pinot Noir we’ve seen. Very highly recommended but if you insist on opening one now, please decant. Match its nuanced earthiness with a Provencal style leg of lamb!