Fifteen years ago, the Duncan family, owners of Silver Oak Cellars, which stakes its reputation on Cabernet Sauvignon, purchased a Merlot vineyard in southeastern Napa Valley. The idea was to expand into other grape varieties, and soon the family also acquired Pinot Noir vineyards in the Russian River and Anderson valleys—proving even Cabernet zealots will succumb to Pinot’s siren song.
The house now offers their Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc under the Twomey Cellars label. Twomey’s Russian River and Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, tasted here, are grown in the estate’s West Pin and Monument Tree vineyards, respectively. Production is supplemented by fruit from two additional vineyards in these districts. All farming is sustainable.
In November 2014, Erin Miller joined the Twomey team to direct their Pinot Noir program. You might call her a winemaker, but she calls herself a vigneron. After earning a Master of Science at UC Davis, Miller completed stages at Domaine de Coume del Mas in Banyuls-sur-Mer and Domaine René Lequin-Colin in Santenay, where she learned that wine is as much about the growing as it is about the making.
Miller didn’t make the wines below—the vintage pre-dates her—but I like her philosophy, and I like these wines. I look forward to more.
2012 Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
13.9% abv | $50 (sample)
The wine’s delicate limpid garnet color belies its resonant spirit. The Pinot was grown in Twomey’s West Pin and neighboring Crinella vineyards. The blocks were vinified separately with ambient yeast and a small whole-cluster portion, and the wine enjoyed 12 months of sur-lie aging in French oak, one-third new. Notes of sweet ripe red berries, warm citrus, and graphite frame clear ruby acidity and savory mid-palate. A spritely lift at the finish balances the wine and polishes it to a luster. Brilliant and delicious, serious and elegant, all at once.
2012 Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
14.1% abv | $46 (sample)
Earthier than the Russian River Pinot Noir, which seems like cut crystal against this wine’s stony blackness. The fruit derives from the estate’s Monument Tree vineyard, supplemented by fruit from Ferrington Vineyard. Again, blocks were vinified separately with ambient yeast and a small whole-cluster portion, and the wine enjoyed 11 months of sur-lie aging in French oak, half new. A fragrance of deep plum fruits and blackberry brambles mingles with graphite minerality to suggest a summer nighttime. Hints of smoke and leather anchor the wine’s front end, while mid-palate savoriness adds dimension and depth. At the finish there’s an intriguing lilt, a reappearance of bright ruby-citrus fruit and herbs and earth. It’s deep and lovely. And it’s also sold out.