Sonoma, aka Pinot Country
How Pinot Noir is coming into its own in a diverse appellation
Kathy Inman has quietly been producing some truly compelling Pinots in Sonoma, even when her style of wines (lower in alcohol, fresh and crisp) was decidedly not in favor. Today the pendulum has swung and Kathy's wines have a bit of a cult following. Perhaps it's their delicacy, or the winery's commitment to the environment, featuring a first (for me) electric car charging station in the parking lot, as well as devotion to organic farming methods and avid use of recycled materials from cars, from the steel used in the tasting room to recycled paper used for wine shippers.
All of this certainly plays into the ideal of a winemaker, but ultimately what counts is what makes it into the bottle, and with Inman that is purity and finesse. Almost all the wines produced, with the exception of the Rosé and the Pinot Gris, are allowed to ferment spontaneously, and there is a minimum of intervention practiced here. There are there Pinots produced here, ranging in price from $35 for the Russian River appellation Pinot to $63 for the Single Vineyard bottling. The winery tasting room is surrounded by the estate vineyard, known as Olivet Grange, and it's with this wine that one gets the fullest expression of the delicacy and detail that Inman wines can provide. Not bad for a winery that was only established in 2000.
There’s a touch of cola or kukui nut on the nose over lovely layers of rhubarb, beet root and red fruit fruit, with subtle hints of stems and a very fine green edge. This is very light on the palate, with aromatic rose petals, red cherry and cranberry fruit, and just a touch of older wood adding a gentle earthy cast. There’s plenty of nice red fruit on the finish, which shows a little pasty tactile quality adding fine tension that lengthens the finish. 90 points
Big and spicy on the nose, with a deep olive wood briar accent to the rich blackberry fruit that’s topped with nuanced floral and lightly smoky aromas. This is smooth and moderately rich in the mouth, with a layer of baby fat covering the fine-grained tannins and supporting acidity. A nice tart, almost black cherry note dominates the palate and drifts off on the finish, which does show a bit of heat. A bit more than I’m used to from Inman. 89 points
Lightly aromatic on the nose with a lovely gentle sweetness of waxy ripe red cherry over a light camphor base, topped with intriguing hints of rosewater. This is wonderfully light, crisp and focused in the mouth, with excellent snap of almost tart but ripe red cherry and cranberry fruit framed by hints of cinnamon and rhubarb. The finish shows lovely purity and energy, with persistent raspberry flavors and the merest hint of tannin offering a touch of mouth grab. 91 points