Sequana Pinot Noir, Sundawg Ridge Vineyard 2009

Cost: $50

What: Sequana continues to impress with their Pinot Noir. I had two of their wines this summer, and they were outstanding. But the Sundawg Ridge is over the top, an outstanding wine.

The wines produced from single vineyards, such as this one, show pronounced differences, as they reflect the area where they are grown. Sundawg Ridge is in the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley. The grapes are planted on slopes with ancient sandstone marine terraces.

They also get doses of morning and evening fog, making for a cool growing season. That’s ideal for Pinot Noir, and allows the grapes to ripen slowly and fully. After cold-soaking and extended maceration, the wine spends 11 months on new French oak.

The wine is silky and seductive, with layers of flavor, especially red cherry and wild berries with a hint of black pepper. The finish is long and smooth.

Sundawg Ridge is a great wine for a holiday splurge. The grapes get a lot of extra care and attention, and that pays off in a spectacular wine.

I would serve this slightly chilled. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, or if it is in the refrigerator longer, let it sit out for about 30 minutes.

Winery: Sequana is part of the Hess Collection, founded on Donald Hess’ belief that great wines come from vineyards of distinction. Sequana’s first vintage was 2007, and it was Hess’s first venture into Pinot Noir.

The company decided to produce estate-grown wines bottled as single vineyard designates. Winemaker James MacPhail approaches the grapes from each Sequana vineyard diferently, letting the vines tell their own story. Artisan techniques such as hand- sorting, cold-soaking and extended maceration, along with aging sur lie in French oak capture this simple notion: the wine recalls where it comes from. Each Pinot Noir produced is unique. Sequana also produces a Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Dutton Ranch.

The name Sequana comes from the Franco-Roman goddess of the River Seine,
which flows through the ancestral birthplace of Pinot Noir.

The Hess Collection was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, who first purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder in 1978. The winery is best known for its flagship Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, and single vineyard designates from estate vineyards in Napa Valley, such as the Allomi Cab. The company also owns wineries in Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

A leader in sustainable and organic practices, The Hess Collection adheres to founder Donald Hess’ philosophy: “Nurture the land; return what you take.”

Located in a historic stone winery originally constructed in 1903 by Colonel Theodore Gier, and later owned by the Christian Brothers, the winery first opened to the public in 1989. It since has earned international recognition for its wine, culinary and visitor programs, and provides free public access to Donald Hess’ extensive private contemporary Art Museum.

Goes with: This is a great food wine that will pair well with a variety of food, from seafood to beef. I tried it with steamed shrimp, which I didn’t think would be an ideal pairing, but it was great. I also had it with Havarti and jack cheeses, and they paired nicely with the wine. It would go well with game, chicken, beef, lamb or duck.

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