Two generations of the Charles family live and work on their 15-acre estate vineyard and winery in Boonville, Calif., in Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. They planted the vineyard in 2001, mostly to Pinot Noir with a little Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and launched their winery, Foursight Wines, in 2006. Production ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 cases per year.
Winemaking is reasonably, and admirably, old-fangled—no inoculations of yeast or malolactic bacteria, no fining, no filtration. The bottles have been ingredient-labeled since the 2012 vintage, and because no animal products are used for fining, the wines are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. (I’m in favor of ingredient labeling; read my take in this article: Wine Labels, Wine Ingredients.)
Their wines are spectral: elegant, elaborate, perfumed, succulent, and ripe but not overtly so. Fruit for this estate Pinot bottling was fermented in bins with 50 percent whole clusters. Fermentation lasted three weeks, with manual punchdowns, and the wine was basket pressed and then raised for a year in French oak, one-third new. The listed ingredients are grapes, tartaric acid, and sulfur dioxide. Pretty minimal.
The wine is a pale red color, like strawberry juice tinged with orange, and the body is faintly cloudy. The fragrance is almost shocking in its florality; there is lily of the valley, wild tea rose, bayberry. But there is also the spring-lawn freshness of spearmint, and the astringency of crushed juniper needles, tomato leaf, and rubbed orange peel. The oak element is reticent, a thin veil of sweet tobacco and cedar. The palate is juicy, the fruit focused on tart cranberries and strawberries and accented with sharp spice and pomander. It might look a little like a young Burgundy and share some of its otherworldly charms, but this wine reads more as New World than Old, more fruit-flower-leaf than than fruit-blood-soil. I want to taste it with some age, as I think the bloom of youth will sharpen its features into high cheekbones and wise eyes.
Still, it’s such a beautiful wine that it’s hard to argue against drinking right away. Stand it up for an hour before decanting off its light sediment, then pair it with delicate flavors so that the wine’s filigree can shine. Try young, milky cheeses, light poultry and white fish, shrimp and prawns, perhaps pork loin. It would be superlative with macaroni and cheese made with good gruyère, seasoned with thyme, and heaped with buttery crumbs. A light mushroom strudel would also be great, or mushroom tortellini; complex but delicate—and suitable for vegetarians.
2014 Foursight Pinot Noir Charles Vineyard Anderson Valley
13.5% abv | $48 (sample) 400 cases made