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The Russian River Valley continues to be the place for California’s most notable examples of Pinot Noir. The abundant fog and unique Goldridge soil, a grayish powdery mix of ancient sand and loam are ideal conditions for nurturing Pinot Noir’s complex range of flavors. Fritz Underground Winery made a classic version in the nearly perfect 2013 vintage. It’s a deep, bold, and spicy Pinot Noir that’s an absolute steal.
About the wine
Winemaker Brad Longton has been working with Pinot Noir from Fritz’s Russian River Valley vineyard in Sebastopol for 20 years. He makes a style that is full-flavored, spicy, with unmistakable RRV in character. Pommard, 113, and 115 clones combine for a plush ripe texture with bing cherry, plum, raspberry, black pepper, earth, and savory spices. Longton favors whole cluster fermentation for maximum aromatics and flavor extraction. Only the best coopered French oak barrels are used to provide the extra polish and depth that makes the wine really soar. It easily compares to $65+ bottles of RRV Pinot Noir from top-tier producers.
Winemaker: Brad Longton
Appellation: Russian River Valley
- 94-95 pts: Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
- 98 pts: Vintage Rating (Wine Advocate)
- 4.0/5: Vivino Users, All Vintages (609 ratings)
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Cooperage: 30% New French Oak for 10 months
About the winery
Located in northern Sonoma County near Coverdale, Fritz Underground Winery began in 1979 as a Gaudi inspired art project by Jay Fritz who built an underground winery within the architectural masterpiece. His son Clay Fritz operates the winery today with on the same core values of sustainability, quality, and tradition. Fritz operates a bit below radar despite 20+ years of consistent high quality wines from their estate vineyards in Sonoma County. In particular, their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown on their estate vineyard in the Russian River Valley are superb.
About the vineyard
Pinot Noir is highly sensitive to where it’s grown and the clonal material used for the vines. Fritz’s Sebastopol vineyard is located in absolute prime grounds for the Russian River Valley’s most coveted wines, with an ever-present fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean tempering the fruit perfectly. Planted exclusively to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the clonal mix of Pinot Noir (Pommard, 113, 115) shows off the deep, spicy, red-fruited, almost peppery style of RRV Pinot Noir.
About the winemaker, Brad Longton
Brad Longton, winemaker, hails from Perth, Australia and brings experience from there (they grow pretty good Pinot down in Victoria!) as well as Northern California wineries. He has eight years of experience handcrafting, single-vineyard Lost Canyon, Fritz and Jenner Vineyards wines sourced from premier terroir of cooler appellations in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Los Carneros. Brad’s careful focus and premier viticulture practices create stunning individual wines.
94-95 points - Walter Moore, WSET Diploma, CSW
“This wine is hard to put down once it hits your nose. The aromatics are simply stunning with a spicy, floral, red-fruited potpourri that typifies the finest versions of Russian River Pinot Noir. It's clearly made using whole cluster fermentation which I believe elevates the structure and complexity in great RRV Pinot Noir. On the palate it's plump and juicy with precise Pinot character and flavors that keep you coming back for more. 2013 is such a great vintage! This is $50-$70 quality. I'd love to pair this with grilled salmon or seared Tuna steaks - but it's not too fancy for a good hot dog!”