Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Wines of David Noyes

When I was looking for a 250 cases or less wine, I ran by chance into the wines of David Noyes.

David Noyes is a seasoned winemaker. After spending 10 years assisting Paul Draper at Ridge Vineyards, David Noyes has been working for Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards since 1989, crafting award-winning wines including the Shaw Vineyard Century Vines Zinfandel and the Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc. More recently, he also introduced his own label David Noyes Wines, making a Pinot Noir from Sonoma and an intriguing Tocai Friulano from the North Coast appellation.

Tocai Friuliano is a native white grape from Friuli, the wine region located in the northeast corner of Italy (Friulano was added to the name Tocai to avoid confusion with Hungary's Tokay, made from the Furmint grape). In Friuli, Tocai Friuliano can produce excellent wines of distinctive character, which makes Leo Hansen, sommelier of Healdsburg's Dry Creek Kitchen, believe that “this will be the next gruner veltliner as far as popularity goes.”

Tocai Friulano is little known in California with approximately 130 acres planted today. But David Noyes found two acres of low-yielding 80-year-old Tocai Friulano vines across the street from where he was making his Pinot Noir. After the success of his 2003 Tocai Friuliano Pagani Vineyard, David Noyes added Mendocino grapes to the Pagani Vineyard fruit to produce the 2004 David Noyes Tocai Friulano North Coast. The wine had a light straw color. The nose was fragrant with citrus and mineral aromas. The palate was slightly fizzy and well-structured, followed by a refreshing grapefruit finish. It was delicious with a baked halibut.

This is the first year that David Noyes has released a Pinot Noir blend from different Sonoma County vineyards and not only from the Dutton Ranch vineyard. For this wine, he used simpler winemaking techniques and a majority of Hungarian oak for aging, with 30% being new. I found the 2004 David Noyes Pinot Noir Sonoma County to be a lighter style California Pinot Noir and a good food-friendly wine. The wine had a forward nose with peppery and smoky aromas. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with earthy flavors and a good balanced finish.

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