2008 Encanto Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: Me Encanto Esta Vina

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Track down winemaker Rudy Zuidema on and acquire his first Pinot Noir release.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Encanto Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir

Winemaker: Rudy Zuidema

Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the independent Carneros viticultural area, a wine growing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Originally designated in 1983, the region’s distinct Terroir and cool climate make it one of the best regions for the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The first grapes were planted here in the early 1800s by missionaries. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir and Pinot thrives here.

Today’s Carneros Pinot Noir is made by our good friend and rising star winemaker Rudy Zuidema who also makes wine for White Cottage Ranch has worked at some of Napa’s best wineries such as Robert Craig, Honig and St. Clement and also consults for several other wineries.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark garnet in color with ruby streaks and a subtle violet tint that shows when poured into the glass. When swirled, tightly spaced and fast pin-thin legs ring the glass.

Smell – Fragrant aromas of black cherry and other red and black fruit blend with exotic spice, smokey oak and soft earthy notes. Hints of flowers, cocoa and anise also emerge giving this wine a lovely but approachable complexity.

Feel – Ultra smooth, this dry and medium-to-full bodied Pinot is expansive on the palate and has fine but sturdy tannins that are framed with lively acidity and textured minerality that grasps the fruit and lingers into the finish.

Taste – Ripe black cherry, red raspberry and some strawberry lead off with notes of toasted oak with toasted vanilla reflexes, exotic spice, sweet herb and soft earthy notes. The subtle anise and cocoa from the nose also make an appearance on the palate.

Finish – Very clean and medium in length with the spice and minerality lingering just longer than the bright ripe fruit and other flavors.

Conclusion – For an inaugural release, the 2008 Encanto Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir is a delicious example of why Carneros is one of the top regions for the varietal in California. A lovely nose, smooth and expansive on the palate and great fruit and other complex classic flavors all work in unison. For a youthful wine, it is drinking very well right now and should continue to develop for many years to come. A sturdier Pinot with good acidity, this wine will pair well with many creative kitchen creations and it was a big hit with diners at Pimento’s Restaurant in Exeter, NH where Agent White covertly enjoys great local New England food with an international flair.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Rudy Zuidema

WINE EDUCATION: BS Degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Patz and Hall, Robert Craig, Ehlers Estate, White Cottage Ranch, The GRADE.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I would like to act as a historian through wine. Showing what mother nature brings to each vintage and making sure the wine speaks clearly of it.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: It takes a lot of beer to make wine.

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1996 Robert Craig Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon


AGENT RED: Greetings, Rudy. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Encanto Vineyards Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

RUDY ZUIDEMA: I am so happy to be featured on your site today. It is one of my favorite sites to keep up with the pulse of the industry.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

RUDY: I will always remember the epiphany I had drinking the 1987 Jordan Cabernet. It was the first time the nuances and subtle flavors that my mentors were describing actually popped out for me.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

RUDY: There are so many. Ben Riggs from Australia taught me about wine work integrity and how just “good enough” is absolutely not good enough. Auraujo wines to me are the most authentic that come out of Napa Valley. I want to my wines to be similar in how they taste like farming, not winemaking.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

RUDY: I make wine that my wife and I can enjoy anytime, anyplace. My wines should go just as well with a friend and a sunset as they do with at five course dinner.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

RUDY: This is my very first effort at making Pinot Noir. After 20 years of winemaking it finally happened. I took a pretty conservative approach to making this to make sure that the elegance, grace, and finesse that I love about Pinot Noir were present. I am very happy with the complexity of the aromas and the layers of spicy fruit. My proudest accomplishment of this wine is the refined balanced finish and its velvety texture.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

RUDY: I just made a scallion and chanterelle mushroom risotto using some of Napa Style’s truffle salt and fresh Parmesan from the Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufactory here in St. Helena. I haven’t had that full of a belly in quite some time.

RED: In your opinion, what makes Carneros so special?

RUDY: Carneros is known for its heavy soils, cool nights and mild days allowing for harmonious ripening of delicate grape varieties. This particular vineyard is indeed very cool but with rocky well drained soils that brings out darker, deeper fruit and more crisp acid. The finish is soooooooo long.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

RUDY: Spring has sprung so a am wearing my farming hat. The plentiful rainy season has made it very easy to open up the soils waking up the plants. I have been on a tractor for the last few days mowing the legume based cover crop down to decompose. We’ve also begun our first biodynamic tea application.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

RUDY: With a sense of ease and confidence. I know not everyone will love this wine, but I am sure that many will. So keep putting it in your mouth if you like it, and go find something else if you don’t. Perhaps a beer??

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

RUDY: Just to never get too set on the same wines from the same producers. There is so much out there to be discovered, the wine adventure never ends.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

RUDY: Always a pleasure fellas!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Encanto Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

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