2019 Aubert Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard
James Suckling | 97 JS
James Suckling | 97 JS
The 2019 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard comes from vines planted in 2006. The wine was bottled at the beginning of July 2020. Medium to deep ruby-purple colored, it starts out with beguiling scent notions of crushed rocks, tilled soil, truffles and garrigue over a core of kirsch, red currant jelly and black raspberries before giving way to a spicy, fragrant perfume of cardamom, Provence herbs and lavender. The full-bodied palate is super intense and fantastically layered, offering a rock-solid backbone of racy freshness and firm, fine-grained tannins. It finishes on a persistent earthy/ferrous note.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RP
The 2019 Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard brings together some of the aromatic breadth of the UV with the textural resonance of the CIX. Rose petal, lavender, spice, menthol, kirsch and dark cherry fruit build in a Pinot that balances density, power and energy. Rich and layered in the glass, with striking inner perfume, the UV-SL is superb.
Vinous Media | 96 VM
Elegant and harmonious, with powerfully structured flavors of dark fruit and Asian spice, backed by rich acidity and supple tannins. There’s minerally snap midpalate, with a finish that shows hints of anise and black olive. Best from 2022 through 2028. 1,202 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 95 WS
Wine Details for 2019 Aubert Pinot Noir UV-SL Vineyard
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: Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
: As one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, Pinot Noir has a long and storied history which began more than 2,000 years ago. This story spans form the time of ancient Roman influence to modern day trailblazing; Old World and New World grape growing. It also involves the most unlikely of “characters” from Cistercian Monks to the Holy Pope and even Hollywood actors; each playing a part in the development of the Noble Pinot Noir grape variety. For a grape that appears simple on the surface, it may be one of the most complex varietals on earth, playing a major role in the formation of some of the most profound and distinguished winegrowing regions in the world.
Pinot Noir’s exact origin remains relatively unknown as it is far too ancient to have been recorded precisely. It is thought to have been cultivated in the rocky hillsides of Burgundy by Roman hands as early as the 1st Century AD. At that time, Roman agronomist Columella identified and tasted wine that very much seems to be consistent with today’s description of Pinot Noir. There are complex theories on how either the Greeks or Romans took cuttings of Vitis Vinefera (Pinot Noir) from the area of Transcaucasia (modern day Turkey, Iraq and Iran) and brought the wild vines to France. Speculation aside, what we do know is that the wine-loving ancient Romans spread their dominion far and wide, leaving grapevines in their wake. Their innovative devotion to cultivating wine in French soil set in motion, nurtured, and influenced the winegrowing culture that we very much enjoy today.
Around 1000 AD, long after the dismantling of the Roman Empire, the history of Pinot Noir in Burgundy begins to have clarity, greatly due to the extraordinary record keeping of the Cistercian Order of Monks (formed from the Benedictine Order). The Cistercian Monks began gaining authority outside the area of what we know today as Dijon. Devoted to hard labor and prayer, the monks began cultivating the rocky hillsides of early Burgundy, painstakingly documenting detailed records of their vineyards. Centuries of specifying their practices, describing exactly how and exactly where vines thrived or failed and how the resulting wine tasted, the Cistercian Monks unwittingly created the world’s first harvest reports while simultaneously inventing the idea of terroir. These records and the notion that wines reflect their growing locales, permanently shaped the fundamentals of winegrowing and making terroir a critical concept.
This concept really gained attention when Pope Urban V refused to return the Papal court to Rome from Avignon due to unavailability of Burgundy wines south of the Alps. The lack of commerce routes inhibiting the Burgundy wine trade did not affect the Cistercian Order of Monks as they were driven towards higher quality and excellence through religious devotion instead of monetary gain. Both the outward remarks of the Pope and diligent efforts by the monks helped place Burgundy in a class of its own.
Pinot Noir would eventually spread its wings and infiltrate Champagne, Loire and Alsace, Provence, Sancerre and Languedoc, finding hospitable terroir and new purposes along the way. From bubbles to “pink” wine, it adapted to the soil, revealing the terroir through the wine itself. The early developments and manipulation of the Pinot Noir grape within France was a precursor for the inevitable. The varietal spread through Europe and eventually making a trip around the globe landing in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (planted in 1965 by David Lett).
The Pinot Noir grape quickly found a niche in Willamette Valley where it shares the same latitude of 45 degrees north, experiencing similar sunlight as well as a similar cooler climate to that of Burgundy. A few years later it would be introduced to California where it found terroir hotspots in both cool and surprisingly hotter climates, thus spreading to Napa, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Carneros among others, birthing New World Pinot Noir winemaking. And, of course, there was the Pinot craze that occurred after the release of the movie Sideways which manifested “Pinot snobs” around America. The 2004 American comedy set the market on fire, increasing sales of Pinot Noir in the state of California by 170 percent.
The varietal of Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates with terroir consisting of marl and limestone soils of extremely variable composition that mimics that of its ancestral home of Burgundy. For a grape that is notoriously difficult to grow, Pinot Noir is ubiquitous in winegrowing regions around the world, spanning 115,000 hectares. It may be a fussy grape, but when planted in the right location and climate, it reveals the qualities of its host terroir in many different manners.
The Noble Pinot Noir grape has greatly impacted the world of winegrowing and making while birthing the concept of terroir; from fruit forward Pinots produced in warmer California localities to New World Oregon wines with Burgundian nuances to Rose in Provence, bubbly in Champagne to the infamous Domaine de la Romanee Conti and its eye watering prices and unrivaled quality. Pinot Noir has long lived the quiet, elegant lifestyle giving Old World winemakers and consumers an ethereal pleasure. New World winemaking has granted it the opportunity for worldwide consumption on any budget and creating the Pinot Phenom. The varietal is now enjoying the best of both “worlds.”
: As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
: With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.
Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
: When it comes to single varietal winemaking in California, especially the world renowned red and white grapes of Burgundy, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it takes an impressive amount of diligence and wine knowledge to be successful. Mark Aubert displays both when crafting his award winning wines, which have nearly elevated him to Cult Chardonnay status. He has become one of the hottest Chardonnay producers in California and often leaves collectors and enthusiasts nearly speechless with desire.
Though Pinot Noir is produced by Aubert, he possesses a very dear fondness for Chardonnay. In particular he has been enamored by the wines of Domaine Leflaive and the quality that precedes its reputation. Domaine Leflaive, which hails from Burgundy with a lofty reputation can be described as one of the truest, purest expressions of Chardonnay and has been a large contributor to Aubert’s efforts. He claims Leflaive has a fanatical upbringing of vines which has inspired him to be more diligent in the vineyard.
Aubert takes great pride in his winemaking and believes that the fundamental ideal to its success is rooted in a relationship with the land; it’s about the soil, about growing, about nurturing, about farming. The winemaking team looks to nature for guidance and science for insight in crafting wine with minimal intervention so that each bottling is a true reflection of its terroir. Aubert’s philosophical approach is simple, “the purity you taste in my wines reflect the work I don’t put into them.” Which is clever because you may not know how to do something, but you very well may know how NOT to do something; an ideal that only a master winemaker has learned through experience and many failings.
Aubert debuted his Ritchie Chardonnay in 2000 and has since expanded his resume to both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from his estate as well as purchased grapes in Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley, which are revered as some of the best in California. He produces hedonistic Chardonnays made to age for a decade or longer, from nine different vineyards, including the esteemed Hudson, Larry Hyde & Sons, Lauren and UV-SL, amongst others. His Pinot Noirs are crafted with just as much care and diligence and are harvested from three separate vineyards, CIX, UV and UV-SL. Like his Chardonnay, Aubert’s Pinot Noirs have become quite popular and are a “go to” for lovers of intense, full bodied, full throttle styled Pinot Noirs that possess complex soil-borne aromatics and structure.
Each vineyard has a unique soil structure and is expressed through the wine itself. From the sloping hillsides of the Lauren and Park Avenue Vineyards on the Sonoma Coast dwelling on an ancient seabed and subsoil to the Eastside Vineyard in Russian River Valley, where rocky hills and cobbled soil is rewarded with small concentrated clusters of grapes where the vines struggle to produce each year. The terroir is closely examined but dictated by nature itself. Aubert has become extraordinarily successful with his minimalist approach to winemaking. 10,000 cases are produced annually, of which 75% are Chardonnay. The wines are strictly sold via mailing list. If you are not already on that mailing list, there is a waiting list for that too.
Those fortunate enough to obtain the wines of Aubert will be left breathless. The wine will take you to Sonoma Coast and dip your hands in the dirt with every taste. Aubert’s enthrallment and appreciation of Domaine Leflaive and the purity of a single variety is certainly reasonable given the prestige and allure of one of the greatest domains in Burgundy; however, what Aubert has accomplished in California is now being recognized and enamored by collectors and enthusiast around the world.