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Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir

Twomey Cellars originated from a dream of owners Raymond Twomey Duncan and his family to employ a labor-intensive approach ( soutirage traditional) utilized by the classified growths in Bordeaux to make a Napa Valley Merlot of great distinction from a single vineyard, Soda Canyon Ranch. The soutirage traditional is a slow process of decanting the wine from one barrel to another without the use of pumps. The wine transfers by gravity using specially-constructed barrels from France. Duncan was a long time owner of Silver Oak Cellars and the winemaker, Daniel Baron, spent considerable time in Pomerol and St. Emilion so the principals were well-qualified to produce this exceptional wine. Angela Kessler, who trained in France, is the assistant winemaker. The Twomey Merlot was released initially in 2000 and was well-received.

In 2001, Duncan leased nine acres on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Daniel Baron worked closely with Ray Duncan’s sons, Tim and David, to craft a Pinot Noir. Initially a special drainage system was installed in the vineyard and seven of nine acres were planted to a mixture of Pommard and Dijon clones. The remaining two acres had been planted to Martini Clone in 1989 and were used solely in the first two vintages of Twomey Pinot Noir. The nine acres are farmed meticulously with rigorous canopy management and crop thinning. The 2004 vintage is the third Pinot Noir made by Twomey Cellars and marks the first time that fruit from the new plantings were included in the blend.

Whole clusters were added to open-top fermenters and a cold soak ensued. During fermentation, punch downs were carried out every six hours. The wines were pressed in a small basket press and transferred to French Burgundy barrels where they completed malolactic fermentation. The Burgundy barrels were chosen because they are slightly rounder and have thicker staves to create a gentler aeration than thin-staved barrels. The wine was aged in barrel for 16 months (8 months of which was “sur lies”). The wine was bottled in January, 2006 and released for sale on July 1, 2006.

2004 Twomey Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 795 cases, $45. · This Pinot has a lovely mahogany color. It has a nose you could drink with notes of red cherries, rhubarb, herbs and oak. The style is elegant and the mouth feel is luxurious. The finish lingers like what I would imagine to be a multiple orgasm and features sweet Jolly Rancher cherry, cola, spice and toast. Heaven-sent.

Twomey Cellars tasting room is open Monday through Saturday from 9-4. It is located two miles south of Calistoga at the intersection of Highway 29 and Dunaweal Lane (1183 Dunaweal Lane). Tastings, including a Twomey tasting glass, are $5. The phone is 800-505-4850. The Twomey Pinot Noir may be purchased there, There is limited retail distribution. The wine is not for sale on the winery’s website (, with only a brief mention of the wine on the site. It takes some sleuthing to grab onto, but worth the effort.

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