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Folktale Santa Lucia Highlands RESERVE Pinot Noir

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Country/State California




Type Pinot Noir

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Like many wineries in the California wine industry, Folktale has had a bit of a tumultuous journey with its own unique blend of ups and downs, hopes, dreams and successes.

Originally founded in 1982 by Bob and Patti Brower as Chateau Julien Wine Estate, the dream was to bring fine wine culture to the city of Carmel, California, just a little ways down the coast from San Francisco. Back then, Bordeaux wines were all the rage, and so as you might guess, Chateau Julien focused on Cabernet and Merlot. They met with some success and in 1996 expanded the winery, the vineyards, and property as a whole.

Time moved on and I am guess two concomitant things happened in the wine industry that changed Chateau Julien’s fate. First, Pinot Noir became popular. Second, cool-climate Cabernet (think Cabernet with some green minty notes to it) became less popular. And if you’ve ever been to Carmel, you know exactly where I am heading. Carmel is not the sunny and hot Central Valley of California. It’s right on the Pacific, with cooling winds and fog, damp and cool much of the time. It’s a bad climate for Cabernet, but it's perfect for Pinot Noir.

Now I am not exactly sure what happened to Chateau Julien, but what I am sure about is that in 2015, a certain Gregory Ahn – self-declared serial entrepreneur, K-pop rock star, and food & beverage impresario – made an offer that Bob and Patti could not refuse. He bought the winery and shifted its focus to cool-climate varietals, folded it into his organic farming, humanely raised, environmentally sustainable food companies (of which there appear to be at least three—all under the moniker Folktale), with the idea that in every bottle of wine there is a story. His food looks fascinating, his YouTube videos are bumping, but what gets me most about Gregory Ahn is his beautiful Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH) Pinot Noir.

The SLH sit inland from Carmel wrapping around Salinas and dropping into the valley. It’s a cool climate with a unique pressure system that creates a massive amount of wind each day as the warmer valleys to the south empty their hot air rapidly through the SLH and out to the Pacific every afternoon. It is a cool, windy, dry area which is perfect for organic, chemical-free grape farming that results in fresh, floral, softly fruited, minerally Pinot Noirs. And Folktale’s Reserve is one of the best:

The wine opens with an alluring perfume of pink roses, juicy black cherry fruits, accents of cranberries, aniseed and a touch of baking spices. The palate is light and lifted. This is true cool-climate Pinot Noir, coming in at 13.4% alcohol. But there is no lack of flavor – the midpalate is immediately accessibile with an eager charm of more red fruits, plums and violets. The body is structured such that it can age at least 10 more years in your cellar, but it’s also drinking great right now.

I’ve always loved Pinot from the SLH, but these days, it’s gotten really darn expensive. I’m not quite sure why Folktale decided to cut us in on this deal for their Reserve Pinot, but once I tasted a bottle I wasn’t going to ask any more questions. Here is Pinot at its purest deliciousness, so dig in!