2014 Azaya Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir


Tasting Notes

Our third drought year, 2014 brought us beautifully ripe fruit at our chilly Azaya Ranch Vineyard. The warm and heat-spike-free summer and fall let us hang the fruit well into the harvest, bringing in the vineyard at the tail end of our pinot picks on September 18 (only Devil’s Gulch, our other Marin vineyard, was later). The wine shows its cold climate roots from nose to finish, showcasing the high-toned and juicy fruit profile on exceptionally smooth and silky tannins. The nose leads with red cherry and cranberry, with a touch of beet-like earthiness, foretelling of a fresh and complex sip to come. In the mouth, the sweet fruit cascades along, with rich berries framed by floral blackberry blossom accents. The summer berry pie finish is underlain with an interesting dusty tea character, giving it added interest and depth. The wine is once again everything we want from our northern Marin pinot: rich and generous, sweet and juicy, with solid but fine tannins that will make this an intriguing candidate for cellaring to watch as it unfolds in the years to come. Pair this delectable pinot with neighbor Marin French Cheese’s Petite Breakfast cheese, or with a spring lamb with fresh herbs from Mark’s Devil’s Gulch Ranch.

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Winemaker's Notes

We at Dutton-Goldfield have a special affinity for exotic sites in sparsely planted Marin County, and Azaya Ranch perfectly fits the bill. Mark Pasternak planted Azaya Ranch for the McEvoy family on an ideal south and west facing hill in Hicks Valley. This could be the sweet spot of Marin Viticulture: in the cold heart, but on a protected, well-drained slope.  Mark and Dan chose 5 clones for this 18-acre ranch: 667, 828, 115, 777 and a touch of 2A. The fruit ripens very slowly, but the tiny berries stay plump and develop thick, chewy skins. For the Dutton-Goldfield offering, we harvest the 667 for its focused dark fruit character and structure, the 828 for its lively high tones, and a touch of 115 for its aromatic beauty. With its great natural acidity, the hallmark of this neighborhood is precise and nuanced berry fruit, lively intensity, and a refreshing lingering finish.

After hand sorting and destemming into a small open top fermenter, the must is coldsoaked for 7 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. To further this aim, no SO2 was used at the crusher. Gentle treatment helps bring the innate floral and berry notes of this wine to the forefront and preserve its intricate complexity. We punch down 1 to 3 times daily, according to the stage of the fermentation; less often and shorter at later stages to avoid bitter tannin pickup. After initial aging in 45% new wood, we blended in the early spring to homogenize the wine and hone our barrel choices. The thick, rich and lusciously soft nature of the 2014 Azaya just loved to soak up the earthy spice of Seguin Moreau Icone barrels, and absorb the sweet toffee of Taransaud barrels. We bottled the wine in January 2016.

Awards & Accolades

92 Wine Enthusiast  View article

92 PinotFile

2014 Azaya Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir

Technical Data

Alcohol: 13.8%
TA: 6.1 gm/Lit.
pH: 3.53
Winemaking: Open top fermentation, cold soak, punch down
Barrel Aging: Aged 15 months in French oak (50% new barrels)


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