Knez Winery: Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley

Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to Knez Winery: a new Pinot Noir-focused winery from cool climate Anderson Valley. What is not new, though, are the vineyards: Demuth Vineyard and Cerise Vineyard, acquired by owner Peter Knez for his eponymous winery. Sounds good so far, right? Okay, now add to this the winemaker: Anthony Filiberti, whose familiarity with the Demuth Vineyard connects him to his other wine gig, Anthill Farms. I hope the picture is becoming clear and you are beginning to see what I see, that Knez Winery is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of Pinot Noir. I know it’s foolish to make too many assumptions with a first release, but what I am here to say is that what I’ve tasted from the bottle thus far has me paying very close attention! The 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir has all the elements that I want from a California Pinot Noir: effusive aromatics, structure, length, and, oh yes, FRUIT.
My expectations were high for my first taste of Knez Pinot Noir. I’d been waiting months for the April release. Though evaluating wines is part of what I do, I must admit that I can get myself so pumped up over the promise of a wine that I ask too much of it to actually deliver. No disappointment here. I tasted the 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir on two occasions, each time with a colleague (first with Tom, then with Pete), and each time I ended up doing my head bobbing thing that I do when something is so right on, correct, on the money, etc., that I’m at a loss for words. The color is a vibrant strawberry hue. The nose is a smash up of juicy sour cherries and dusty spice. It reminded me of how early Dehlinger Pinots smelled in their youth (I haven’t bought any recent vintages, still drinking my ’94s and ’95s)–the way the subtle aromatics deceive one into thinking the wine couldn’t possibly have any power, but once you take a sip the nuanced aromatics and palate give way to an underlying structure. The 2009 Anderson Valley Knez has that same beguiling dichotomy of elegance and power. I’m thinking this has everything to do with the well-placed vineyards with their high elevations and southwest facing slopes. Did you know that Anderson Valley, being about 10 miles from the ocean as the crow flies, has some of the coolest year-round climate of any wine-growing region in California? The 2009 Anderson Valley is a combo of Cerise and Demuth fruit, sees 25% new oak, and is 40% whole-cluster fermented. There will be single-vineyard releases from Demuth and Cerise this fall, so stay tuned.
I am fascinated with a growing conversation among wine folks revolving around the topic of what it means to have balance in wine. Its a hot topic that spurs deep passions and one that I am not prepared to take on at this time. That said it’s my feeling that the 2009 AV Pinot Noir from Knez achieves a balance, which perhaps illustrates this end-goal beautifully. Anya Balistreri The breathtaking vineyard photos are courtesy of Ryan McAllister, Knez Winery Vineyard Manager, and last minute delivery guy—Thanks Ryan so much!!!

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Filed under Anderson Valley, Anya Balistreri, California

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