Littorai

A sense of place

Ted Lemon is a winegrower, not a winemaker. Winegrowing implies that careful and conscientious farming is the primary step in crafting wines that express their terroir. Littorai was founded in 1993 after Ted and Heidi Lemon took an epic wine tasting tour from Walla Walla, Washington, to Santa Barbara in search of a spot that would yield great Pinot Noir. They became convinced that Northern California coast offered the best potential. Littorai’s wines have since become the benchmark for a new style of California Pinot Noir that strives to be a “wine of place.” These wines are lighter in color and alcohol and less extravagant and ripe, but strikingly fresh, pure, and vibrant – aromatic and flavorful without being weighty or opulent. Burgundy was an early influence on Lemon. He studied enology at the Université de Dijon, apprenticed at several Burgundy houses and was appointed head of Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault – all by the age of 25! But though Burgundy has been a model for Littorai, it was never a template. Instead, he lets the terroir of his vineyards suggest how best to cultivate them and craft their wines. These vineyards are located along the littoral, the coastal edge of California, on rugged hillsides in the Anderson Valley (Mendocino County) and along the Sonoma Coast. Here ocean fogs bless the vines with an extended growing season, but more importantly, the soils are so diverse (as a result of the area’s turbulent geology) that even nearby vineyards can produce wines of different aroma, flavor and ageability. Littorai focuses on single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but also makes two appellation bottlings with those barrels or vineyard lots that do not meet the highest standards. Littorai owns just one estate vineyard (The Pivot, near Sebastopol), but sources the rest via “by the acre” contracts or long term leases that allow Lemon to plant and work the vineyards as he pleases, even if the yields are tiny. A firm believer in biodynamie, the estate operates an integrated farm, with vineyards, pastures, and woodland combined into one holistic unit, but even the non-estate vineyards are farmed organically without any fertilizers beyond vineyard compost. Winemaking involves fermenting the Pinot Noir with some amount of whole clusters in traditional open-top fermenters with natural yeasts and without (or with very little) sulphur or other additives. The wines age in (partially new) French oak for up to 16 months. If rich, mouth-coating, opulent black fruit is what you expect in a California Pinot Noir, Littorai’s wines may provoke a surprise. Prepare for floral and red fruit aromas, vibrant flavors, fresh acidity and a tannic structure that will allow the wines to develop and blossom over the years.

Wines from this Winery

2017 Littorai Anderson Valley

2017 Littorai Anderson Valley "Les Larmes" Pinot Noir

Les Larmes is an Anderson Valley appellation wine that is blended from de-classified barrels and press wine from such vineyards as Cerise, Savoy, Wendling and One Acre. In French, Les Larmes means "the tears." Those tears were shed in 2005, when the One Acre Vineyard succumbed to phylloxera, and the vines had to be ripped out. At first, Les Larmes was made from the fruit of the new vines in the replanted One Acre vineyard. Like Littorai’s Sonoma Coast appellation wine, Les Larmes is made to be enjoyed young. While it’s a vibrant, mouthwatering wine with aromas of raspberry and cranberry, it nevertheless impresses with power and earthiness.

Details
¥ 9,500
2017 Littorai Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

2017 Littorai Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Comparing the Les Larmes (Anderson Valley) and Sonoma Coast appellation wines, the winery says, “While the Les Larmes bottling may appeal to those who enjoy darker fruit tones and more structured wines, the Sonoma Coast is all finesse…. Less weighty and more elegant on the palate than Les Larmes, the acidity lends the wine delicacy and precision.” The 2017 Sonoma Coast consists of 50% Twin Hills vineyard just south of Sebastopol, 17% from declassified barrels of Hirsch, Mays Canyon, The Pivot, The Haven and Thieriot vineyards. 33% is sourced from press wines from these same vineyards. The Sonoma Coast Pinot spends less time in barrel than the vineyard-designated wines and in a lower percentage of new oak, which makes it more appropriate for early drinking. If you are looking for Pinot Noir that’s vibrant and alive with bright fruit flavor rather than dense and alcoholic, this one’s for you! 

Details
¥ 9,500
2016 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir

2016 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir

Littorai’s only vineyard planted on a valley floor, Savoy is located just north of Philo, at the cool, foggy, upper end of the Anderson Valley. On the other hand, because the vineyard is protected from winds by the surrounding hills, the environment is much less harsh than, say, the one at the Hirsch Vineyard. The more benign conditions may be one reason why adjectives like “soft,” “feminine,” “delicate,” and “forward,” are often used to describe this wine. Savoy vineyard Pinots feature joyous raspberry, plums and cherry as well as earthy notes of fern, wet moss and minerals. Ted Lemon suggests Savoy Pinot Noir is a wine for game. 

Details
¥ 12,800
2016 Littorai Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir

2016 Littorai Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir

Nestled among rolling hills just six miles from the coast, the Platt Vineyard overlooks the quaint seaside town of Bodega from an elevation of about 750 ft. The coastal location guarantees enough rainfall that irrigation is not needed. The blocs farmed by Littorai were planted in 2004, meaning that the vines are just entering maturity. Sadly, 2016 will be the final vintage of Littorai’s Platt Vineyard bottling as the owners have other plans for their vines. On the other hand, 2016 may be the finest Platt Vineyard ever. Floral notes galore mingle with notes of raspberry, blueberry, Asian spices and pepper. A delicate, pure and elegant Pinot of the Sonoma Coast, the 2016 is already in top form and, while additional time in the bottle won’t hurt, it isn’t exactly necessary.

Details
¥ 12,800
Out of Stock
2016 Littorai Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir

2016 Littorai Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir

Two hours north of San Francisco, near the mouth of the Russian River, the Hirsch Vineyard is planted along a rolling 500 m. ridge top within view of the Pacific Ocean. Until the 1980s, this was cattle country. With the San Andreas Fault just a few miles away, the soils are complex and gravelly – too poor for most crops. Extremely wet winters as well as winds, fogs and dry summers - not to mention the distance to established “wine country” - kept these hills off winemakers’ radars, until people realized these conditions and soils favor a fresher, more vibrant style of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As a purchaser of Hirsch Vineyard fruit since 1994, Littorai has demonstrated the consistent excellence and longevity of its wines. About the 2016 vintage, the winery notes that in general the wines are lighter in color, less fruity but more floral than those produced in 2015. On the other hand, the 2016 Hirsch is a powerful wine that that stands out for being dense and firm yet with a freshness emanating from the whole clusters in the fermentation.

Details
¥ 14,400
Out of Stock
2016 Littorai Pivot Vineyard Pinot Noir

2016 Littorai Pivot Vineyard Pinot Noir

Located in the hills just outside of Sebastopol about 11 km from the coast, the Pivot is Littorai’s own estate vineyard and home to the winery. Five clones of Pinot Noir grow on the property, which is farmed sustainably using biodynamic methods. Planted in 2004, the vineyard is just entering a mature phase and gradually beginning to reveal its true personality. In recent vintages, the Pivot’s wines appear to be about a balance between generosity of fruit and flavor and structured elegance. In 2016, 30% whole cluster fermentation helped produce a wine with a wonderful lift and perfume.

Details
¥ 14,400