Pinot Noir, 1979. Hultgren & Samperton

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | September 1982

Unique architecture and deliberate techniques are the obvious things you notice about this relatively new Sonoma County winery.

The architecture is composed of 3 geodesic dome buildings, designed for the functional aspect of free air circulation within the spherical shape of the dome. No air pockets exist and convection currents create a cooling effect. The buildings are at three levels so that gravity flow can be used for many transfer operations. Smart!

The deliberate techniques come from the team of Leonard Hultgren and Ed Samperton. They blend their advertising and wine making backgrounds respectively into a well rounded plan of wine production and marketing. Hultgren hails form New York and Madison Avenue. Samperton’s wine experience includes 10 years in Burgundy, stints in Morocco, New York State, and two wineries in California. They built their winery on the outskirts of Healdsburg in 1978, and their first crush was 1979. Ed believes in.longer skin contact during primary fermentation…forced malolactic fermentation prior to aging exclusively in new and old small French cooperage.

Pinot Noir has not taken to California like many of the other grapes from France. Soil, climate, correct hybrid, cultivation, winemakers art, all have been analyzed over and over again, with no emergence of consistency and greatness (vis-a-vis our successes with Cabernet).

Our wine is not a classical example of a Pinot Noir, because it does not demonstrate the textbook varietal character. However it is a superwine, well made, bold and flavorful, with ageing potential. Ed says the reason for this is that the grapes came from 70 to 80 year old vines in Alexander Valley. He used an old Burgundian technique, and the wine is still closed in. That’s OK with me. It’s outstanding.

The wine is deep purple red and dark. It has a fragrant full aroma, with lots of fruit. The taste is bold and flavorful with depth. A hint of bitterness does not take away from overall balance. Blindfolded I would have difficulty identifying it as a Pinot Noir, but it sure is worth it at this price tag. Serve with robust meat dishes, steaks, roast.

Cellaring Notes: Will benefit from 4 to 8 years of ageing.

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