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The Donum Estate: 2012 Gifts of the Land

Donum means “gift of the land,” and the wines from this estate are truly that. The Donum Ranch’s 147 acres covers three hills in the Sonoma Carneros region just north of San Pablo Bay. Nestled amid these hills is a 50- acre vineyard planted to a diverse collection of heirloom selections and Dijon clones of Pinot Noir.

In the 2012 vintage, besides the Donum Carneros Estate Pinot Noir, a Carneros West Slope and Carneros East Slope bottling were released. West Slope comes from the middle portion of a west-sloping block at the Donum Ranch. Beginning in 2007, as the block’s vines developed considerable depth and complexity with age, a stand-alone West Slope bottling was born. The 2012 vintage marks the third release of the East Slope Pinot Noir. This block is on an east slope at the Donum Ranch planted to the Calera heritage selection.

A third bottling from the Donum Ranch is named 1870, taking its name from the stone ruins of a stagecoach stop built in 1870 which remain in the center of the Ranch today. The 2012 vintage marks the first release of this wine, which represents the best blend the Estate vineyard has to offer. This wine is the spiritual heir to the Tenth Anniversary Pinot Noir, and will only be released in exceptional vintages. Donum Estate is pictured below.

Donum also has an estate vineyard in the Russian River Valley known as The Winside Vineyard (previously the Nugent Vineyard). The first 11 acres were planted in 1997 by Donum’s owner and viticulturist Anne Moller- Racke and winegrower Joe Nugent to Dijon clones 115 and 667. In 2008, 5 more acres were planted to the Pommard clone on an adjacent plot. The Pommard block was named “Ten Oaks” after the ten majestic trees that border it on two sides. Both a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir are produced from this vineyard along with a Ten Oaks Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, first released from the 2012 vintage.

Donum has also reached out to the Anderson Valley and farms the Angel Camp Vineyard. 2012 marks the second release of two wines from this vineyard located in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley north of Philo. This vineyard is planted to seven different clones of Pinot Noir in volcanic, sandy soil, at about 500’ elevation on a knoll with several different aspects. The Anderson Valley bottling is a barrel-selected blend from all blocks in the vineyard and the Angel Camp Vineyard bottling represents the top barrels from this young vineyard.

Dan Fishman has been an integral part of the winemaking team since 2007 when he worked as an intern under consulting winemaker Kenneth Juhasz who began producing the Donum and Stemmler wines in 2005. Dan took over the winemaking helm for both labels in June 2012.

The 2012 vintage was event-free with normal bud break and moderate temperatures at flowering. The summer months continued with mild weather, causing less stress on the vines and resulting in slightly larger berry size than normal and a bountiful harvest. Harvest was conducted leisurely over the course of weeks, allowing picking at peak maturity. 2012 was a wonderful gift considering the challenges of the preceding year. All fruit was harvested before the first fall rains in mid-October.

Donum Pinot Noir is a bold but polished expression of the Pinot Noir grape with plush fruit that offers striking intensity, backed by firm but well-mannered tannins, reflective of the long pre- and post-fermentation maceration.

Donum Pinot Noir is sold primarily through a mailing list. Private tastings are available by appointment at the Donum Estate: contact Shannon Muracchioll at 707-939-2290 or Contact Shannon also to purchase wines.

2012 Donum Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.60, 766 cases, $72. 84% Donum clone and 16% Dijon 667 clone from the Donum Estate. 6 to 10-day cold soak, punch downs three or four times per day to ensure proper extraction. The fermented wine was left on the skins for two to twelve days. The free run wine underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel and the wine was aged 11 months, at which point the best barrels were selected for the Donum Carneros wine. These barrels were then aged an additional four months, before bottling in February 2014. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Generous aromas of earth-kissed blackberry, black raspberry and cassis with a lovely hint of spice and sassafras. Glamorous and stylish on the palate with mid weight flavors of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry and spice, offering an intense attack and a lifted finish. The wine’s firm, but balanced tannic backbone and complimentary oak make for easy approachability. I liked the wine more each time I returned to the glass. Score: 92

2012 Donum Estate Grown West Slope Carneros Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.61, 273 cases, $90. 100% Donum clone. Long cold soak, extended maceration, native yeast fermentation. Free run juice was aged a year in a mix of 75% new and 25% used French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Complex aromatic profile including scents of strawberry, cherry and raspberry with earthy compliments of mushroom, fern and balsam. The following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose had evolved and became intoxicating with a flourish of berry and cherry fruit and spice. Mid weight plus in structure with darker fruit flavors on the palate including dark red berries and cherries with a touch of spice. Very plush, with substantial but not intrusive tannins, and an astounding and enduring finish offering a festival of fruit that makes this wine stand out from the pack. A superb cellar candidate. Score: 94

2012 Donum Estate Grown East Slope Carneros Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.68, 132 cases, $90. 100% Calera selection. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak, two long pump overs with very few punch downs, pressed just after dryness with no extended maceration to highlight its delicacy. The free run juice was aged in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A brawny and sappy young wine with vibrant aromas of black cherry and blackberry, bramble and grilled mushroom. Generously endowed with boysenberry and cherry flavors framed by muscular tannins that are most evident on the slightly astringent finish. Oak plays a supportive role in the background. The wine was more appealing the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle showing more extravagant fruit aromas and flavors. Still a little rough around the edges, this wine will benefit from more cellaring. Score: 92

2012 Donum Estate Grown 1870 Carneros Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.63, 73 cases, $120. 100% Donum clone from the three finest blocks in the Donum Estate Vineyard. The finest blend from the Estate Vineyard and bottled only in exceptional vintages. The juice spent 17 to 33 days on the skins, before being drained to French oak barrels, 75% new, and aged 14 months without racking. The favorite four barrel blend was then determined and blended and bottled as the first 1870 Pinot Noir. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of dark strawberry, raspberry and enchanting sous-bois. Very refined and polished with impeccable balance. Vivid flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, pomegranate and spice, framed by structured but tucked in tannins, and finishing with uncommon drive and persistence. This wines takes the best features of the Donum Carneros Pinot Noir wines and blends them into one glorious package. Wow! Score: 95

2012 Donum Estate Grown Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.61, 731 cases, $72. Dijon 667 and 115 from the Winside Estate Vineyard. 15 to 25 days on the skins, punched down up to four times a day, with occasional pump overs. Free run juice was sent to 100% French oak barrels, 64% new. The best barrels were selected to assemble the blend which was bottled on February 5, 2014. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Intensely fragrant over time in the glass, with aromas of the blackest cherry and cola. Full-bodied core of Bing cherry fruit with a hint of cola and spiced raspberry. Soft and gracious on the palate, with balanced tannins, and impressive fruit-dominated length on the finish which leaves a slight trail of warmth. Score: 91

2012 Donum Estate Grown Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.67, TA 0.61, 326 cases, $90. 43% Pommard and 57% Dijon 667. This bottling is the first Russian River Valley Reserve to feature both Dijon and Pommard clones. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak for 8 days, cap punched down up to four times a day with occasional pump overs, modest extended maceration before barreling down into 100% French oak barrels, 70% new. 7 barrels of Dijon 667 and 5 barrels of Pommard made the final blend which was bottled in February 2014. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Extravagant aromas of ripe, dark berries and black cherries, tilled soil, and mocha java. The charge of full-bodied black cherry and blackberry fruit engulfs the palate, holding court through an intensely fruited finish. Imposing and structured, yet offering a deft touch of oak and admirable harmony. This wine has an extra wow factor. Score: 93

2012 Donum Estate Grown Ten Oaks Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., pH 3.73, TA 0.59, 160 cases, $72. 100% Pommard clone from the Ten Oaks block at Winside Vineyard. 80% de-stemmed with 20% whole cluster. 9-day cold soak, indigenous yeast fermentation, one or two pump overs or punch downs during fermentation. The wine was sent to barrel after 17 days on the skins. The best barrel blend was assembled in January 2014 and bottled the following month. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak-kissed cherry and raspberry lead to mid weight flavors of slightly confected cherry, raspberry and red grape with a hint of baking spice and sandalwood in the background. The tannins are reigned in and there is modest finishing length. The wine was unchanged the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89

2012 Donum Single Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.60, 348 cases, $72. Dijon 115, 777 and 667, Martini, David Bruce and Swan. Heirloom selections and Dijon clones were fermented separately with different regimens. Aged in 100% French oak barrels, 53% new from several coopers. The final blend was about 30% heirloom and 70% Dijon. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting complexity in this wine that offers scents of blackberry, pomegranate, spice, mocha and espresso. Mid weight plus attack of sappy purple and black berry fruits with contributions from pomegranate, spice and oak. The mouthfeel is velvety, the vigorous tannins are folded in, and the wine finishes with plenty of juicy goodness. Score: 91

2012 Donum Single Vineyard Angel Camp Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.61, 126 cases, $90. Swan, David Bruce, Pommard and Dijon “828.” Heirloom selections and Dijon clones vinified separately with different regimens. The wine is meant to be the best blend that can be made from this vineyard each year. In 2012, the blend contained only heirloom selections. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Pleasant aromas of black cherry, sous-bois and herbs. Plenty of ripe blackberry, cassis and beefy flavors backed by substantial tannic sinew. Soft and velvety on the palate with some finishing drive. Somewhat ripe and rugged now with noticeable oak overlay. Best to stash this in the cellar for a couple of years. Score: 90

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