Anthill Farms Returns: 2006s

Anthill Farms 6 Bottle Sampler – $12 savings
$234.98
Add to Cart
One bottle each of five Pinot Noirs and one Syrah. See individual listings below.
Anthill Farms 12 Bottle Sampler – $45 savings
$449.98
Add to Cart
Two bottles each of five Pinot Noirs and one Syrah. See individual listings below.

Last year, we debuted these wines without really knowing what kind of response to expect. I knew I liked them (a lot), but I had to wait until people got the wines in their glasses. We sold the carp out of them, like they were Varner or Carlisle with big points. A month or so later Alan Meadows at Burghound came out with high praise and high scores, and all of a sudden these guys were no longer a secret. Almost a year later, our customers are still asking for more. Which makes the release of the 2006s a welcome occasion.

We were lucky to get in with these wines when we did, which I proclaim a triumph of peskiness. Now we’re on the list, and the Anthill guys were nice enough to maintain our allocation. Which we appreciate, because restaurants are already starting to devour this stuff. When I went up to taste the 2006s from bottle, a buyer from a local wine bar ordered 20 cases of the Comptche for his by-the-glass program. When case production is in the low hundreds, 20 here and 20 there means sold out soon.

I tasted the 2006s from barrel and bottle, and it was a pleasure to remind myself of what initially drew me in. They are wines of refined succulence, seductive length, and intricate aromatics. They fold into food and quilt (quilt, the verb) across the palate. To call Anthill pioneers of California Pinot Noir might sound odd, but these guys are definitely in new territory, and their’s is a path worth following.

If you missed the wines last year, and you’re wondering what the deuce I’m going on about, Anthill Farms is a partnership of three winemakers/viticulturists who met in the cellar at Williams Seylem. Their approach is not complicated: The California wine industry is, for the most part, divided between growers and winemakers, and the result is that the two are not always working toward the same objectives. This can compromise fruit quality in the name of business. Anthill’s solution is to cultivate genuine partnerships with smaller vineyards. They end up doing some or all of the viticulture, and they coax the fruit to ripeness right alongside their growers. To paraphrase Webster Marquez, they are significantly (really, a whole lot) more involved in the day to day of their vineyards than most “estate” vineyards. The result is boutique, and in some cases micro-vineyards that produce wines the likes of which we don’t often see coming from California.

There is a tendency for us to call Pinot Noirs that we like (like these) Burgundian. I say that’s a simplification. What I love about these wines is that they succeed aromatically, texturally, and in the nuance and persistence of the flavors; they succeed as Pinot Noir. The Syrah succeeds as Syrah, in case you were wondering. They remind me that I like good Burgundy not simply because it is Burgundy, but because it is Pinot Noir from an excellent site. The best Burgundies succeed as Pinot Noir, and since Burgundy came first, we call successful California Pinot ‘Burgundian’. Which is strange because when we eat a nice chicken we don’t compare it to an egg. Yes, I’m saying the egg came first. Try and stop me. Let’s forget that terminology. These wines operate in many of the same ways fine Burgundy operates, but they are not insecure, trying to be Burgundy. Rather they know they are Pinot Noir, and they are Californian as a starting point. They build upon this and paradoxically become wines to cure California fatigue. They reveal their place as well as any wine from this state. They are distinct and exciting to have in your glass. The Anthill wines are Pinot Noir as Pinot Noir should be. And that’s why (the deuce) I keep going on about them.

We have two samplers again this year, a six pack and a full case, both with 5 Pinots and the outstanding-value Syrah. Both offer significant discounts off the normal retail and give you the chance to taste across the Anthill portfolio. I’ve included my notes on each wine below. – Ben Jordan

Anthill Farms 6 Bottle Sampler – $12 savings
$234.98
Add to Cart
One bottle each of five Pinot Noirs and one Syrah.
Anthill Farms 12 Bottle Sampler – $45 savings
$449.98
Add to Cart
Two bottles each of five Pinot Noirs and one Syrah.

Tasting Notes
Many times I won’t do formal tasting notes, but since none of the critics have published yet (they’ve tasted and liked a lot), I figured I should try to translate my chicken scratch into something helpful.
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; North Coast;
$34.98
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This is the first year for this appellation wine. It’s basically Demuth with a little Abbey Harris. This was the first wine they poured, and it jumped out immediately with the aromatics. Snappy and vigorous and with these black tea back notes that seem be an aromatic calling card for these wines. The palate is spicy and well fruited, and it’s already showing well, though this wine will really start to sing after a few more months in bottle.
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Comptche Ridge Vineyard Mendocino County
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Other California;
$44.98
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One of the great examples of extreme ‘vineyarding’. Evidently you have to drive out to Mendocino and then back inland to get to this site. The nose is very perfumed, a perfect example of why people are excited about these wines. In the mouth it is cool fruit and spice, and finishes with cream and vanilla bean. It wants time, but it sure is delicious already.
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Demuth Vineyard Anderson Valley
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Other California;
$44.98
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Probably showing the best in the lineup the day I tasted, its aromatics are quite refined and focused for a wine this young. The palate brings berries, herbs, tea and an expansive midpalate. A lot of length here, and the wood is well integrated for such a young California wine. Last year, this was one of the more muscular wines in the lineup, but this year it seems to revel in its subtlety.
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard Sonoma Coast
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Sonoma;
$44.98
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The shy subtlety of last year is replaced with more amplitude and denser fruit. There’s all sorts of clove and anise, making this a wine to stick with for as long as you can. I used to always ooh and ah over the Hirsch vineyard wines, but this is bringing more value while keeping with the high quality that you would expect from a well situated/farmed Sonoma Coast vineyard.
2006 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Sonoma;
$48.98
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While the Peter’s and Demuth seemed to flip flop in power from last year, the Tina Marie continues with its more flamboyant Russian River personality. While it is tame compared to some of the Syrah-like versions from the appellation, it is certainly the exotic selection of the bunch showing powerful, earthy aromatics along with a ripe extended palate.
2006 Anthill Farms Syrah Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley
Red Wine; Syrah/Shiraz; Sonoma;
$27.98
Add to Cart
These guys are making their name with Pinot Noir, but they always try to make a wine that their “friends can afford to drink.” This Syrah was born of this goal, and after last year, I’d say they have a lot more friends. This wine wasn’t around long last year, so only a few of you got to try it before you came back and bought us out of it, so the rest of you couldn’t try it. It is all the things you love about California without anything you don’t. The nose is beautifully minty and meaty, and this carries into the creamy palate. As California wine goes, it remains one of the best deals going.

Want to hear more? Really? Email me at ben.winehouse@sbcglobal.net.

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