Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir 2016 – Talisman
Style: Red
Country: USA
Region: Sonoma Coast
Grape: Pinot Noir
Score: 90-94
Price: 50-75 euro

Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir 2016 – Talisman.

The Sonoma Coast, with its cool climate and unique terroir, plays a pivotal role in shaping the distinctive profiles of Pinot Noir, such as the one from Wildcat Mountain Vineyard. Its combination of fog, wind, and varied topography contributes to the nuanced flavors found in the wines from this region. 

In this review we are discussing a single vineyard Pinot Noir, the 2016 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard by Talisman Wines.

About the Winery

Talisman Wines’ journey from its inception in 1993 to a celebrated producer of Pinot Noir is marked by a passionate dedication to crafting wines that express the unique character of their vineyard sources. This dedication extends to their careful selection of vineyard partners, emphasizing extreme character within each appellation. The chosen vineyards are distinguished by their location, soil, aspect, elevation, and the personality they bring to the wine. 

Philosophical alignment with growers is paramount for Talisman, ensuring a shared commitment to producing top-quality, unique, and exquisite wines. This is reflected in the winery’s “half day rule,” where vineyards must be close enough to allow for meaningful engagement and collaboration within half a day’s travel from the winery in Sonoma. This rule underscores Talisman’s hands-on approach and their desire to be intimately connected with the growth and development of their grapes.

The vineyards span several renowned appellations, including Los Carneros, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Sonoma Mountain, Napa Valley, Yorkville Highlands, and Bennett Valley. Each site is chosen for its ability to contribute distinctive characteristics to the wine, allowing Talisman to guide the beautifully grown Pinot Noir grapes from these sites into the bottle while preserving their individuality.

Much like the diverse personalities of children within a family, Talisman Wines aims for each of its wines to stand out, sharing a common thread but boasting very different personalities. This approach has led to a portfolio of wines that are as varied as they are compelling, with each vineyard’s contribution celebrated in the bottle.

About the Vineyard

Perched at the highest elevation within the appellation, Wildcat Mountain Vineyard is an exceptional site characterized by its well-drained volcanic soils and exposure to the cooling influences of fog and cold air from San Pablo Bay. This challenging yet rewarding environment is ideal for cultivating Pinot Noir grapes that exhibit a distinct spicy and sassy character, imbued with depth, structure, and vitality.

Established in 1998 by Nancy and Tony Lilly, along with their partner Steve MacRostie, the vineyard’s history is a testament to the vision and tenacity of a family dedicated to this land for over half a century. Committed to sustainable farming practices, the vineyard utilizes earth-friendly methods, such as replenishing the soil with winemaking pomace and planting cover crops to enhance soil health. These practices contribute to the production of grapes that are expressive of Wildcat Mountain’s unique terroir.

Wildcat Mountain Vineyard is planted with a variety of clones to add complexity and nuance to the wines. More information about the vineyard, including a look at it, can be found here.

About the Wine

The 2016 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir is a prime example of Talisman Wines’ philosophy and meticulous vineyard selection process. With some additional years of cellar aging this Pinot Noir is now at its full strength, transitioning from more primary and secundairy to tertiary aromas and flavours.

The wine captivates with its aromatic bouquet of dark cherry, wild strawberry, and earthy undertones, followed by a complex palate that weaves together ripe red fruits with hints of spice and a delicate touch of oak. The finish is long and mineral-driven, echoing the unique character of the Wildcat Mountain Vineyard and the Sonoma Coast’s terroir.

In creating this wine, Talisman Wines not only showcases the distinct personality of the vineyard but also their commitment to expressing the true essence of their carefully selected vineyard sites. It is a testament to their dedication to quality, character, and the art of winemaking.

We award this single vineyard Pinot Noir with a 91-point DWA score.

This review is written by our own Niels Aarts. The Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir is available through Wexxs Wijnen in their shop in Blaricum (NL).

Price:                          €62,50

Taste date:                March 2024

Score:                         91/100 DWA Score

Website:                    Talisman Wines