Sonoma and Mendocino Counties are two of my favorite places in the world to explore. Of course, they’re also full of amazing Pinot Noir vineyards.
Winemaker Anthony Filiberti has an encyclopedic knowledge of Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino. After working for heralded Pinot producer Williams-Selyem, Anthony now tends vines and makes wine for Knez (based in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley) and Anthill Farms, a Sonoma Pinot project that he runs with two other partners.
I recently had a chance to meet Anthony and taste his wines at Weygandt Wines in Washington, DC. A laid-back Sonoma native, he’s easy to talk to and full of information about this vast Pinot Noir paradise.
Knez focuses on fruit from Anderson Valley, Mendocino’s most famous and respected appellation, while Anthill Farms deals with individual plots from around the Sonoma Coast, a massive appellation composed of many different microclimates and soils. With the appellation blends (the Knez Anderson Valley and the Anthill Farms Sonoma Coast), Anthony says he aims for the brighter and more approachable juice. And at $30-$35, they’re great introductions to the house style.
The 2013s from Anthill Farms were only recently bottled, but these wines are already strutting their stuff. While they have moderate tannic structure, the bright acidity and smooth red fruit makes them delicious to drink now. The 2012s from Anderson Valley are tremendously beautiful wines, but they could use a while in the cellar to soften their hard youthful edges.
Here are some notes on the wines I tasted….
2012 Knez Winery Pinot Noir - California, Mendocino, Anderson Valley
Floral and bright on the nose. Fine tannins, crisp acid, a juicy and vibrant approach. Silky but tangy cherry fruit, this is a vibrant and approachable wine, but it still has some density of flavor and texture. A whole lot of Anderson Valley Pinot for the money. From Cerise and Demuth vineyards. (90 points)
2012 Knez Winery Pinot Noir Demuth Vineyard - California, Mendocino, Anderson Valley
Juicy cherries and tart cranberries on the nose, some earthy-spice elements as well. Great firm texture but crisp acid, a velvety feel, this wine is on point with balance. Chewy red fruit leather and crunchy red berries mix with cola, spice and minerality. Great concentration but elegant as well. Will have a lot to show in the cellar. From a gorgeous site 1,400-1,700 feet above the Anderson Valley, Demuth is home to some stunning Pinot (and Chardonnay). (92 points)
2012 Knez Winery Pinot Noir Cerise Vineyard - California, Mendocino, Anderson Valley
So perfumed on the nose, lovely deep berries, roses, violets, sweet spices and herbs. Tangy acid meets structured tannins, this Pinot Noir shows the structure of the 2012 vintage but it’s also very silky. Bright berries mix with herbs, cola, pepper and earth. Lovely stuff with an incredibly long finish. Will develop a whole lot of complexity in the cellar, but this is beautiful stuff. Not too far from Demuth, a bit lower in elevation (700-1,100) the Cerise fruit is richer but still wonderfully balanced. (93 points)
2013 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Bright and bursting with strawberries, cherries and roses. Juicy, tangy and fresh on the palate. Raspberries and sour cherries blend well with roses, earth and notes of black tea. Approachable but elegant and complex. Great stuff, a good introduction to the Anthill Farms approach. A blend from several vineyards: Peters, Tina Marie, Campbell Ranch and Hirsch. (90 points)
2013 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Bright and vibrant cherries and raspberries on the nose, along with complex elements of earth, rhubarb, cola and clove. Tangy acid and fine tannins are in wonderful balance on the palate, and the raspberry and cherry fruit is ripe, juicy and fresh. Love the herbal kick, the baking spices notes and the lingering minerals. From the hills west of Sebastapol, this is elegant and sexy stuff. (92 points)
2013 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Tina Marie Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
Sweet cherries and raspberries on the nose, earthy notes as well. This is the juiciest and most forward wine of the bunch but still shows lots of crisp acid and a tangy feel. Strawberries, raspberries, some black cherries as well, lots of cola, pepper, clove. Ripe and bold but elegant and very pleasurable. This Russian River site is the warmest Anthony works with, but he’s still able to craft a terrifically balanced Pinot. (91 points)
2013 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Just wow. Gorgeous perfume: so floral and full of herbs and spices, so much depth in the red fruit. Full on the palate but juicy and crisp at the same time. Cranberry sauce, cherry rhubarb pie, red plums, the fruit is complex and exciting. I love the mix of green herbs, clove, tobacco and rhubarb. Gorgeous lengthy. Lots of dusty tannic structure, so will age well, but impressive in its young beauty. From a 700-foot vineyard near the Mendocino border, this is a remote, rugged wine of amazing purity. (93 points)