A Short Story – 2011 Pinot Noir “Les Alliés”

September 19th 2011: First day of Pinot Noir harvest for Forge Cellars.

The day was long; we finished around 2am or 3am.  I remember because after hours of sorting grapes, Justin and Jimmer let me bail before the final cleaning. I had to be on a bus at 6am bound for NYC.  We really weren’t totally prepared for harvest that evening. We had only started re-hydrating our big wood fermenters that morning when we had to make the sudden decision to pick that day.  The grapes were ready and the weather window had narrowed.  This Pinot wanted to get off the vine and it was to be Monday, not Thursday as originally scheduled.  Welcome to the Finger Lakes…during harvest, schedules are useless.

The fruit was beautiful.  It stained your hands like ink and had the smell of wild berries, rocks and underbrush.  It was going to be interesting to watch these thick-skinned, deep purple nuggets evolve into our first wine.

As the weeks went by, other winemakers would stop by to take a look at our Pinot (we all like to do this) and would remark that one of our tanks had the color of Syrah, black and inky.   The wine evolved and mellowed a bit, but always had a rich, almost savage character…full of iron, dirt, spice and grip.  When it was time to do the blending trials, both Justin and Louis said the wine couldn’t be blended with any other Pinot, but I was the hard headed one and thought that I should at least try.  I did, and with complete failure, while Justin giggled in the corner and muttered something like, “I told  you so…”  Ahhh, partners.

The wine, which we referred to as the “boy” throughout its elevage, because of its brutish, broad and unruly nature, didn’t disappoint.   This was a special wine and it wanted to stand on its own, so we bottled it separately and gave it extended bottle aging.   Now what to call it?  Louis had an idea….

“Les Alliés”

From the verb “allier” : To ally in English
Les alliés: The friends – The partners in English – The related people

So we all agreed, when possible, we will make a cuvée called Les Alliés, for both Riesling and Pinot Noir and this cuvée will serve to celebrate the new friends we have made, the partnerships we have created and all that is related to the joy of appreciating, growing, and making great wines that binds us, even over great distances and different languages.

Today, “Les Alliés” has much to say and is a pure and expressive Pinot Noir, already showing great depth.  It still maintains its brooding, dark-fruited nature, surprising concentration and long finish.  Notes of iron, soil, brush, spice and smoke have come together in a characterful wine that undeniably reflects its terroir.  This bottling rewards those who decant it (showing its desire to age) by evolving into a plush and elegantly-textured dinner companion.  It’s really a gentle giant.

65 cs available…$32 per bottle