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Harrington Wine: Urban Star

Harrington is part of the popular San Francisco urban wine movement, located in a warehouse in the Produce District. Proprietor and winemaker Bryan Harrington is a Pinot Noir specialist who has achieved a quiet following and his wines are truly worth your interest. I first became interested in Harrington wines after tasting them at the World of Pinot Noir in 2006. The wines stood out for their individuality and deft winemaking.

While working as a bartender in San Francisco, Harrington traveled to Europe and became enamored with the very small producers who were tending tiny vineyard plots and crafting a few barrels of wine. It was a model that he eventually was to pursue. He began making wine in his basement in San Francisco, attended several University California Davis classes, and moved on to a cooperative winemaking facility in Berkeley. He finally started his own label in 2002 and settled into his present location in San Francisco. His wines are crafted in an artisan fashion with no wine made in larger than a 300 case lot. Bryan says, “It is my responsibility each year to use every means possible to bring a fruit-full and authentic wine experience to your glass.”

Most Harrington vineyard sources are at least 30 years old and nurture California’s older heritage clones. Bryan notes, “Vineyard sources have been chosen not only for their age and quality, but also for their ability to convey those characteristics that typify the particular Pinot Noir appellations, whether it be the firm structural elements of wine from the limestone of Chalone, the dark fruit flavors of the Sonoma Coast rocky ridge tops, or the racy Bing cherry profiles from the Goldridge soils of the Russian River Valley. The winemaking approach is biased to accumulate the particular flavors and aromatics natural to each site.”

Photo below shows Bryan (left) and partner Ken Zinns pouring at the 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival.

I recently sampled the four 2007 Harrington Pinot Noir releases. As Bryan promises, each wine speaks of its location and has an appealing individualistic style and personality. Also, all four wines retain the finesse and delicacy that Pinot Noir is known for and I like this. All fermentations are driven by natural and inoculated yeasts.

2007 Harrington Iund Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., pH 3.41, 258 cases, $40. This vineyard is 25-years old with the 2007 vintage. Martini clone. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. · This is a comfortable wine that speaks of fruit in the redder spectrum. Dried cherries are most evident with echoes of spice, oak and tomato. Light to medium-bodied, the mouth feel is all silk and satin. Not an extraordinary wine, but a very fresh and juicy drink driven by crisp acidity.

2007 Harrington Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.58, 304 cases, $45. The vineyard is located on a hillside at the cool southeastern edge of the Petaluma Gap, close to the town of Penngrove. The wind and fog funnel in from the Pacific Ocean, keeping acidity high in the grapes and allowing slow maturation. The soils is extremely rocky, de-vigorizing the vines. Clones 828, 667, 115 and Swan. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak. · Appealing scents of black cherry jam lead to cherry-driven flavors with a hint of cola. The cherries really sing. Great fruit purity, smoothly textured, fine-grain tannins and a clean finish. Straight forward and lacking some power, this is still very pleasing juice.

2007 Harrington Brosseau Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., pH 3.52, 132 cases, $50. This site is known for the limestone strata pushed up from a million-year-old seabed by the nearby volcano. Clone 538. Aged 10 months in French oak. · With some time in the glass, this wine explodes with bright black fruits enhanced by aromas of restrained oak-driven spice and toast. More fullness, more creamy fruit and more pizzazz than other wines in the lineup. The black raspberry and blackberry fruit core is mouth filling but not jammy. Despite its prodigious fruit, this is a pretty wine that finishes light with a memorable lingering aromatic presence. There is a healthy tannic backbone and perfectly balanced acidity predicting good age ability. The best wine I have ever had from this vineyard.

2006 Harrington Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $40. This vineyard is a little-known gem and the wines I have sampled from here are terrific. · A nose of great interest featuring ripe cherry compote, newly-sawed oak and a touch of good barnyard funk. Dark cherry and berry flavors with riffs of loamy earth and oak, fine-grain tannins, finishing with a fruity persistence as it slips off the back of the palate. This wine held up beautifully in a sampling throughout the day.

Harrington wines are sold to a mailing list at www.harringtonwine.com. Look for Bryan Harrington pouring at San Francisco Urban Wineries events sponsored by the Winery Collective. The Winery Collective is a collection of small winemakers dedicated to producing artisan wines (www.winerycollective.com). Harrington wines are available for tasting seven days a week at Grange Sonoma, another tasting room collective located in Sonoma at 23564 Arnold Drive on Highway 121 (www.grangesonoma.com).

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