Striking [Red] Oil in the Russian River Valley

Today’s Story: Twomey Cellars

Twomey Cellars was founded in 1999 by Ray Duncan and his son David following Ray’s successful founding of Silver Oak Cellars in 1972. Though Ray’s background is in oil entrepreneurship (he founded Duncan Oil in Colorado), he started buying land in the Napa and Alexander Valleys during the 1970s with the goal of planting vineyards and selling fruit to wineries. With Justin Meyer as his co-founder of Silver Oak, however, Ray started producing his own wines and Silver Oak became famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon. After a few decades of running Silver Oak, Ray wanted to explore varieties besides Cabernet Sauvignon and founded Twomey with David in pursuit of producing Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

With a goal of producing vineyard-focused wines, Twomey has wineries in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley, Philo in the Anderson Valley, and a soon-to-open winery in Dundee, Oregon in the Willamette Valley. From this vast geography, Twomey produces six single-vineyard and three regional Pinot Noirs, one single-vineyard Merlot, and one single-vineyard and one estate Sauvignon Blanc. In producing these wines, Twomey practices sustainable farming in all of their vineyards with major emphasis on water and energy conservation. This not only helps protect the land for generations of winemakers to come, but improves fruit quality while allowing the wines to showcase their unique place.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.9% ABV

The 2012 Russian River Pinot is pale ruby/cherry in color and moderately transparent. This Pinot needs about 30-45 minutes to open up, but once it does the expressive nose emits aromas of cherry, raspberry, saddle leather, smoke, forest floor, a hint of barnyard, white pepper, dried green herbs, rose, and a pinch of cinnamon. On the palate, the wine showcases notes of dark cherry, dried cranberry, strawberry, tobacco, damp earth, peppery spice, rosemary, slight coffee bean, and a hint of vanilla. This gorgeous and easy-drinking Pinot is medium-bodied with medium acidity, light (almost nonexistent) tannins, and a medium (-) length finish. The finish could be a bit longer to truly impress me, but nonetheless this is a delicious bottle of wine.

Price: $50. This is a solid price-point especially when compared to some of the other RRV Pinots I’ve enjoyed that are twice as expensive but only marginally better. Nonetheless, $35 is always a sweet spot for me for quality Pinot Noir and you can find bottlings in that range up to par with this Twomey. Pair this with salmon, roasted chicken, duck, lamb, or charcuterie.

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