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Beautiful Expressions of the Freeman Style

Ken and Akiko Freeman started their winery quietly in 2001 and since then have developed a style of Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that appeals to those who savor elegant cool-climate wines with lovely ripe fruit flavors. Their talented winemaker, Ed Kurtzman, is assisted by Akiko, and together they craft wines that are quite approachable upon release, yet show enough depth and structure to allow for extended development over the long term. The best barrels from each vintage are chosen by Akiko and bottled as “Akiko’s Cuvee.” Production is about 4,000 cases annually which includes a Chardonnay (Ryo-Fu “Cool Breeze”).

Ken and Akiko seem to be everywhere, hosting tastings at their winery, as well as participating in many Pinot Noir festivals and special dinners. This is in spite of Ken’s day job as an investment banker. They travel extensively and entertain Ken’s banking clients at home and abroad. The pair have lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and Akiko hails from Japan. The result is that over 300 cases of Pinot Noir are sent to Japan each year.

The Freemans own a winery built into a hillside complete with extensive caves located in western Sebastopol. They have spent considerable time and energy in beautifying the caves and it is a comforting place to visit and taste. In 2007, they began planting their own four-acre estate vineyard on the hillside behind their winery. Under the guidance of noted viticulturalist, Greg Adams, they chose to plant Swan and Calera selections in the Goldridge soils of this vineyard.

The 2006 vintage wines have been released to mailing list customers. The 2006 vintage offered cool days and clear sunny skies, allowing for slow, even ripening and retention of desirable natural acidity. Ken says the 2006 wines are a little fuller, riper, and more voluptuous than the more elegant 2005s. I found that these wines were very drinkable now because of their soft tannins and silky textures.

2006 Freeman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $41. · A complex array of scents including bright cherries, herbs, barnyard and oak char. The dark cherry, raspberry and cola flavors are saucy and lush, but the thick oak toast spoils the party for me. A perfectly well-crafted wine that will appeal to those who like oak with their Pinot.

2006 Freeman Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $41. · Moderate dark ruby color. Appealing aromas of toasty cherry, herbs and even apple notes. The palate is sturdy, full and long with nice black cherry and oak spice flavors. The mouth feel is velvety and the whole package is perfectly balanced. Not a blockbuster by any means, just a very comforting Pinot Noir that is easy to recommend.

2006 Freeman Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $46. · Moderately deep ruby color. The nose is a showy cherry bombast - rich and deep with damp earth accents. Substantial black cherry core, smooth, clean and tangy with a lengthy finish. A woodsy, earthy touch adds interest. A stellar wine from a top Sonoma County vineyard that is worthy of its own designation.

2006 Freeman Akiko’s Cuvee Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., $52. · A bit shy at this stage. Extensive swirling in the glass brings forth nicely spiced black cherry scents. This wine is a little better than the other wines in the lineup in every way. Creamier on the palate, especially on entry, more elegance, and a longer finish. Perfect integration of oak. You can drink it now, but it will reward further cellaring. Akiko knows Pinot.

Freeman Vineyards & Winery sells most of their wine to a dedicated mailing list. The wines are available in select retail outlets and leading restaurants. The website is and the phone is 415-831-4756. Tasting is by appointment. Look for them pouring their wines proudly at most of the major Pinot Noir Festivals. A wonderful marriage of eastern and western esthetics.

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