Young and Exciting NorCal Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Trail Marker Wine Co.

Trail Marker Wine Co. was founded in 2012 by Drew Huffine and Emily Virgil, a husband and wife duo. Drew originally studied English during his undergraduate and Masters programs, however after working for the Colorado Wine Company and being encouraged by Kent Humphrey of Eric Kent Wines to work a harvest his career shifted. Drew moved from English to wine and held positions with Copain, DuMol, Kosta Brown, and Wither Hills before becoming the winemaker for Tuck Beckstoffer Wines. After Drew met Emily, whose background is in costume design for the film industry in Los Angeles and who also shares a passion for wine, the two decided to create their own venture and moved to the Bay Area to start Trail Marker Wine Co.

Drew and Emily originally started Trail Marker with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as their focus, and as a matter of fact their first wine came from the purchase of 1 ton of Chardonnay grapes from the remote Manchester Ridge vineyard located at 2,000 feet elevation above the Anderson Valley. This being said, Trail Marker has since branched out to Carignan, Zweigelt, and Blaufränkisch which are all sourced from small, remote, and responsibly-farmed vineyards from Mendocino to Santa Ynez. Through this approach, the goal of Trail Marker is to produce wines from cooler coastal sites that produce fruit that develops with lower sugar content and in turn produces wines with higher acidity and lower alcohol. As you might guess at this point, this philosophy finds home in the cellar as well with all of Trail Marker’s wines produced in hands-off fashion: fermentation is accomplished only with indigenous yeasts, little or no new oak is used, and handling is minimal. Thanks to their classic, Old World way of producing wines from some of the most unique vineyards in California, Trail Marker is unsurprisingly one of the most exciting new wineries I’ve come across in some time.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 12.4% ABV

The 2017 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir is very pale ruby in color (almost rose petal) and nearly fully transparent. I let this wine open up in the glass for about 30 minutes, though it probably could’ve gone longer due to its youth. The nose showcases aromas of cranberry, redcurrant, red cherry, dried herbs, red and blue florals, earth, white spice, mineral, and wet stone. Once in the mouth, I get notes of tart cranberry, strawberry rhubarb, pomegranate, sweet tobacco, underbrush, white pepper, and slate. This is a medium-bodied Pinot with high acidity, low tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $44. This is a new producer for me and a wine I grabbed on an explorative impulse at the store. Nonetheless, I think this is a delicious PN at a solid price-point and I would buy this again. Pair this with roasted chicken, duck breast, or grilled salmon.

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