2017 Littorai Anderson Valley "Les Larmes" Pinot Noir

Winery

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.

Wine

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.

Winemaking

After fermentation on native yeasts in open top fermenters for 18 days, it aged 10 months in 15% new French oak.

Tasting notes

Aromas of red plums, raspberry and cranberry are accented by notes of rose petal, lavender and wet earth. The palate is bright, rich and structured with velvet tannins and acidity.

Appellation

Anderson Valley (Mendocino)

Varietal

Pinot Noir

Size

750ml

Closure

Cork

Alcohol

13.0%

UPC

NONE