FEL, Hirsch Vineyard, Anderson Valley, Pinot Noir 2014

Rating: WE 92

Year: 2014

1 in stock


This is a robustly built, densely packed and velvety wine with smooth layers of integrated oak. Tannins provide the power and foundation behind its crisp blue fruit and dried herb flavors, seasoned with cola and black pepper spice.

With its abundant aromatics of red cherry and pomegranate, our 2014 Hirsch Pinot is reflective of the fruit-forward nature of this early vintage. Given time in the glass, subtle spice layers — cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove — appear, adding layers of complexity to the wine’s nose. In the mouth, sweet flavors of red cherry are once again most immediately notable, but there is great depth and richness to this delicious expression of cool-climate Pinot Noir from the “True Sonoma Coast.”

Vineyard Notes
This wine is made of a blend of Dijon 777 and Pommard clones from two different blocks at the acclaimed Hirsch Vineyard, located less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Sonoma Coast. The vineyard’s high elevation, over 1,400 feet, puts the site above the fog line that consistently hugs the Pacific Coast through the summer months. This results in mild days that produce Pinot Noir noted for its pretty red fruit, floral notes, and elegance.

Production Notes
The fruit was harvested on September 2nd and 8th at an average of 24.1° Brix. It then went through a five-day cold soak at 50°F, an eight-day uninoculated primary fermentation peaking at 92°F, and a three-to-eight-day extended maceration. The wine was aged sixteen months in 60 gallon French oak barrels, 38% of which were new. Coopers include Rousseau, François Frères, and Billon.

Winemaker Notes
With its abundant aromatics of red cherry and pomegranate, our 2014 Hirsch Pinot is reflective of the fruit-forward nature of this early vintage. Given time in the glass, subtle spice layers — cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove — appear, adding layers of complexity to the wine’s nose. In the mouth, sweet flavors of red cherry are once again most immediately notable, but there is great depth and richness to this delicious expression of cool-climate Pinot Noir from the “True Sonoma Coast.”

Wine Specs
Appellation: Anderson Valley
Bottling Date: January 2016
Alcohol %: 14.3
Production: 291 cases

FEL Wines produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from the Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast. Meticulously crafted by Winemaker Ryan Hodgins, FEL also features a unique portfolio of vineyard designate wines, including both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from our estate Savoy Vineyard.

Owner Cliff Lede’s love for creating and building things led to the purchase of a small winery in the Anderson Valley in 2009. Breggo Cellars was renamed FEL Wines as an homage to Cliff’s mother Florence Elsie Lede, who dabbled in home winemaking. Two years later, the Lede Family acquired the Savoy Vineyard, a benchmark vineyard for Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition to the Savoy bottlings, FEL Winemaker Ryan Hodgins crafts Anderson Valley appellation Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, and a collection of vineyard designate Pinot Noirs from select vineyards within the Anderson Valley and Sonoma Coast. Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Cliff remembers the tulip as signifying the end of winter, bringing with it a freshness and excitement of warmer days ahead. The FEL Wines label, featuring an illustration of an opening tulip, is a tribute to Florence’s passion for gardening.

Cliff Lede, Owner

Since founding his namesake winery in 2002, Cliff Lede (pronounced lay-dee) has put every emphasis towards creating a modern and diversified world-class estate. A strategic thinker and visionary, Lede is the driving force of a company that at once holds the values of the great Old World winemaking properties, with the energy, youth and spark of the New World. His wines are intrinsically connected to the land, yet his view point is forward-thinking and entirely fresh. < LESS
One visit to the Cliff Lede Vineyards property, which is full of contemporary art and is juxtaposed with vineyard blocks named for classic rock songs, and it is clear that to him, wine—like music and art—is a source of great beauty.

Lede grew up involved with his family’s successful construction business in Canada, and first discovered the splendor of the Napa Valley while on a business retreat in the 1990s. An avid long-distance runner, he explored the back roads of Napa Valley throughout his trip. The area resonated a great deal with him, as he had collected Bordeaux wines since his late 20s. Frequent return visits ensued, and he was soon exposed to everything Napa Valley has to offer: beautiful land, some of the world’s greatest restaurants and a core of friendly, passionate and hardworking people that reminded him of his own community.

Lede soon began searching for a property in Napa where he could start a winery. Determined to plant his roots in the Stags Leap District for its complex and age-worthy wines, he remained patient and focused.

Upon learning that a Stags Leap District estate was for sale, Cliff recognized the opportunity and, after months of negotiations, established Cliff Lede Vineyards. One year later, the southwest facing hillside just above the Silverado Trail became available. Following the acquisition of the rare hillside property, Cliff named it the Poetry Vineyard. In 2005, he opened Poetry Inn, one of Napa’s most secluded luxury boutique hotels, perched high above the valley floor overlooking the winery and vineyards. In 2009, he expanded to include cooler-climate varieties from the Anderson Valley as his love for creating things led to the purchase of the Savoy Vineyard and the creation of a new brand, FEL, named for his mother, Florence Elsie Lede.

Ryan Hodgins, Winemaker

Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ryan Hodgins attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he often had conversations with his plant biology professor about winegrowing. Though he explored a few careers upon graduation, his interest in wine was piqued, and he soon relocated to California and enrolled in the master’s program at U.C. Davis and graduated with a degree in Viticulture & Enology. 

As a means of researching the topic for his thesis – Pinot Noir tannins in the Willamette Valley – Hodgins got his first hands-on vineyard experience while working harvest at Witness Tree Vineyard in Salem, Oregon. Upon graduation in 2004, he spent a year gaining experience in other regions at wineries such as Acacia Vineyard in Napa, where he served as harvest enologist, and Krishna Valley Winery in India, where he served as visiting winemaker.

In 2005, Hodgins returned to the United States and accepted a full-time position as assistant winemaker and viticulturist at Hanzell Vineyards, a role that helped hone his expertise in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Sonoma. While at Hanzell, Hodgins also worked as the founding consulting winemaker for Breggo Cellars in the Anderson Valley. The Lede family’s acquisition of Breggo Cellars (now FEL) in 2009 allowed Hodgins to become full-time winemaker. In 2011 the Lede family purchased the Savoy Vineyard, a benchmark vineyard in the Anderson Valley, giving Hodgins access to his first estate vineyard.

Anderson Valley is an AVA in Mendocino County situated to the east of neighboring Mendocino
. It lies at the very northern end of California's prime winegrowing area, approximately 100 miles (160km) north of downtown San Francisco. Anderson Valley is among the coolest of California's wine regions – though there is significant temperature variation along the valley's length – and, as such, is particularly suited to the cultivation of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. 

The AVA's key town, Boonville, lies at the southeastern end of the valley approximately 16 miles (25km) from the northernmost town of Navarro. Its northern half follows the course of the Navarro river, which begins at the confluence of Rancheria and Anderson creeks on the southern side of the Philo township. This section of the Anderson valley is located 10 miles (16km) from the Pacific Ocean. Narrow and low lying, the valley is perfectly positioned and shaped to funnel ocean breezes and fog in from the Pacific coast. Rain is also plentiful, making this a cool and moist viticultural area.

The unique combination of geographical and climatic conditions found in the northwestern end of the valley has resulted in the predominance of mostly cool climate varieties. Anderson Valley's Pinot Noir has a sweet, uncomplicated and unique style. Chardonnay, too, does especially well and some excellent examples of Riesling and Gewürztraminer are produced. Sparkling wines of exceptional quality are also made here, a fact that prompted the French Champagne house Louis Roederer to set up a local winery in the valley in 1982, Roederer Estate.

The valley's southern half follows Anderson Creek between Boonville and Philo. It is around 20 miles (32km) from the coast and consequently is warmer than the northwestern tip, allowing varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Zinfandel to ripen. Indeed, there are a small number of Zinfandel vines that are more than 100 years old – some of the oldest in the US. These still produce outstanding, concentrated wines today, but in a lighter, finer style than is traditionally associated with this robust red variety. Although measurably warmer, the southeastern section of the valley is subject to frost.

The prevalence of cool-climate varieties in Anderson Valley is in sharp contrast to those more favored in the warmer climes to the southeast, which include the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah. Anderson Valley celebrates this significance with two annual wine festivals dedicated to its four key grape varieties: the International Alsace Varietals Festival and the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. However, the AVA is also home to smaller plantings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.

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