Wrapping up my wine visits in California in April 2015, my final stop was to Kutch. This is a fairly recent project started by Jamie Kutch. He fell in love with wine while working on Wall St in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s. After tasting through many examples of Pinot Noir from California and taking detailed notes he eventually decided it was time to take the plunge and get into the wine business.
He moved to California in 2005 and worked that harvest at Kosta Browne, learning what he needed to know about work in the vineyard and in the winery. He started with a very small production of his own label, that vintage, 2005 made at Kosta Browne. Since then Jamie has expanded his production and now sources fruit from all over Northern California.
His style has shifted over the past 10 years, only recently realizing the full potential of what he intends to achieve. I can’t personally speak to the style of the earlier vintages. This visit was my first exposure to his wines and we tasted through the 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages.
Jamie is passionate about his project. Situated in Sonoma, he sub-leases space in a warehouse facility. He primarily uses temperature controlled 1 ton stainless steel fermentation tanks to keep individual lots separate though vilification. He has sourced the only 2 ton wood fermentation vats of their kind in the United States. He smiled and said; “I saw these in the cellars at DRC” and went on to indicate that they were difficult to import but eventually they made their way to his facility. Jamie uses predominantly neutral oak and prefers to keep things simple, focusing on letting the site express itself.
As you’ll see in the notes below these are interesting, unique wines. They all have plenty of blue and purple in their colour, aroma and palate. Across the board the quality is great and this is indicated in my scores. Even a score in the high 80′s is excellent in my books. Jamie started doing 100% Whole cluster ferments with his 2012 vintage and while I’m usually a fan of the smoke, incense, wet earth and spice Whole Cluster can add to the aromatics, I did find that for whatever reason I was missing those aromatics in these wines. I’m enjoying very light, pure red fruited Pinot Noir lately and so I was kind of caught off guard by the blueberry, blackberry, black currant and violet aromas of these wines. The wines aren’t heavy or overripe, but still didn’t quite have the red fruited elegance I usually prefer. Regardless, I purchased a few 2013′s and will be very interested to see how they age. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that some bottle age rounds things out. I found most of these wines to be quite structured with elevated tannin for Pinot Noir. I’ll be excited to see how these taste in 10 years.
- 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
This wine pours ruby in colour with blue and purple flecks toward the rim. The nose comes across somewhat reticent of blue and purple mixed berry fruit with secondary hints of smoke, light dusty soil and black licorice. The palate features nice light medium minus acid and medium tannin. The finish lingers nicely and is carried on mixed fresh dark berries. 12.3% alcohol. (87 points)
- 2014 Kutch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
(Barrel Sample) Nearly identical to the 2013 in terms of style, though slightly darker colour, more aromatics and higher tannin. This pours ruby with shades of blue noted and a more purple inky core. The nose is of blue and purple mixed berry fruit, licorice, dry soil and smoke. The palate is quite tannic with moderate acid and a tangy medium finish. (87 points)
- 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir Falstaff Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Again, there are stylistic similarities to the previous wines but finally a little red fruit shows up in the profile. The nose is of dark cherries, red plums, red locorice, chalk, terragon and rosemary. The palate reveals medium acid and elevated (medium plus) tannin. Really a tough wine to assess today. The score is very much provisional. Like many 2013′s on my trip this could just be a little tight. Despite the wine being 100% Whole Cluster fermented I don’t get this much in the aromatics, though it does seem to have added tannin. (89 points)
- 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir Bohan Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Out of the entire lineup this seems to have poured the least purple and blue, with more of a red core in comparison, still not quite as light and pale as I might have liked, however. This is very much driven on mixed berry fruit: blueberry, blackberry, dark pomegranite, violets, lavendar and chalky soil. Again the tannins are quite high with medium acid. Lots of florals on the finish which is one of the longer ones in the line-up. (89 points)
- 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
This pours fairly dark with a core that is barely translucent and has plenty of purple at the rim. The nose is of plum, violets, purple hard candy and a touch new oak spice. The palate shows medium tannin, medium minus acid and a medium finish of violets and purple candy. (88 points)
- 2012 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
While the fruit profile and colour of this wine is still in line with the previous bottles, perhaps even a tad darker with a blackberry impression, there is also some secondary development just starting to poke through. The nose is of blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, black currants, hazelnut, dried leaves, toast, and dry dusty soil. Starting to soften but still overall this is giving off young and structured impression, especially on the palate. (89 points)