94 Insider Points
Central Coast Pinot Has Been On the Rise.
Ever since Paul Giamatti made all the fuss about "f******* Merlot" in 2004, Pinot from our friends down south get more and more popular every year. Tolosa, growing theirs in the famed Edna Valley, is one of the drivers of Central Coast brands. I'm familiar with the winery from my days managing the San Clemente Wine Company, where they flew out the door. Stoked to be representing them again here.
Cedar, cola and red cherry aromas rise from the glass. On the palate, dried raspberry, spiced black cherry and macerated cranberry. It has a long finish with dry cranberry. An exciting dive into the Central Coast, it's been too long since my last trip.
94 Points - JZ January '18
Edna Ranch, Edna Valley
100% Pinot Noir
Tolosa’s proprietor is Robin Baggett—A Central Coast native, former college hall of fame athlete and General Council to the NBA’s Warriors, as well as the founder of Alpha Omega, a Member favorite winery in the Napa Valley. Baggett has lived and worked in the Edna Valley for 40 years and was one of this new hot region’s earliest proponents. Planting grapevines on his cattle ranch in 1988, Baggett quickly saw that grapes—not cows—were the best use of his beautiful, cool-climate acreage.
More than any other AVA in the state, Edna Valley mimics Burgundy and boasts a microclimate significantly cooler than elsewhere in California. Thankfully, however, what Edna Valley does not share with Burgundy is snowfall and hail—both of which pose a constant threat to Pinot and Chardonnay in the Cote d’Or. For this exquisite Pinot, four clones of Pinot grown in five distinct blocks of Tolosa’s estate vineyard in Edna Valley were harvested at peak of ripeness. After maturation in French oak for 11 months (40% new) the wine is supple and sleek as a racing horse, with nimble plum and black cherry fruit encasing a core of cedar and exotic spice. Drink this limited release now or cellar for the next 5-10 years.
Four reasons we love it:
- The name Tolosa comes from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, which established the first vineyard in the Edna Valley and produced the best-known wines of early California.
- The 2014 vintage in the Central Coast was rated 93 points or “Excellent” by the Wine Enthusiast for Pinot Noir and 93 points by the Wine Advocate, as well.
- Edna Valley happens to be the coldest appellation in all of California, thanks to the near constant coastal winds off the Pacific Ocean.
- The Edna Valley’s unique terroir consists of rich marine deposits, as this region was once an ancient seabed.
Bright red cherry color with aromas ripe blackberry, crèmede-cassis, violet, and nutmeg. The flavor of blackberry is challenged for the lead by crushed stones while ripe black plum, cedar, and green tobacco are a prelude to the rich mid-palate and fine grain tannins lingering on the finish.
From the winery...
A PLACE OF EXTRAORDINARY POTENTIAL
Edna Valley is nestled amongst the northwest-southeast running volcanic hills of San Luis Obispo County and is the frontier for the most complex cool-climate varietals in California, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The transverse valley is an extension of the sea, with a funnel leading past Morro Bay, 3,600 feet below the Pacific. The cold Pacific wind sweeps down the coast and into the valley and vineyards, creating a microclimate ideal for ripening sensitive Pinot Noir grapes. Oscillations in warm and cold are further improved by the Pismo Venturi effect that clears the evening fog. Edna Valley, the coolest appellation in California, has all the elements for crafting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines to rival any in the world.
In Edna Valley, much as the soil and the climate come together, the passions of vintner Robin Baggett have converged. Dreams of owning a cattle ranch brought him to the area almost 40 years ago; the revelation of the valley as a remarkable place for Burgundian varietals ignited his zeal to build complex, nuanced and balanced wines of distinction. A true believer in terroir and the deepest evocation of place, together with his winemaking team, his mission is to discover the valley’s best pockets of soil, and through the art of uniting the right sites, clones, rootstocks and farming practices, create exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are the purest expressions of Edna Valley.
At Tolosa, we believe the role of the winemaker is to reveal the character of the wine. It starts in the vineyards, of course. There, we use cutting-edge technology, such as infrared vigour mapping and detailed soil exploration, to better understand the vineyard and even the individual vines. This allows our vineyard team to pinpoint the attention needed throughout the growing cycle. At harvest, the grapes are picked by hand in the cool, dark hours of the morning and transported to the winery in small bins to avoid undue pressure on the fruit.
At the winery, the grapes are sorted for color, size and ripeness using a state-of-the-art optical scanner to ensure only the best fruit makes it into our most-prized wines. Stainless steel rectangular-shaped tanks create a thinner cap of grape skins, allowing more of the juice to have contact with the pumace for flavor extraction and easier - and thus gentler - hand punch downs. Pinot Noir grapes are pressed in a small-lot basket press for the gentlest pressing process. Our separate warm barrel fermentation room allows for fine-tuned guidance of the fermentation process. Our winemakers select barrel by barrel in the blending process to compose wines that are nuanced, complex and balanced.
The attention to detail means more work and lower yields but the character of Edna Valley shines through.
Fig balsamic glazed ham with fingerling potatoes? Yes please. Yam fries with fire-roasted pepper & pineapple mayo? Oh yeah. Roasted leg of lamb with white balsamic mint jelly.