The Dark Side of Claiborne & Churchill Winery
Though the name Claiborne & Churchill Winery is synonymous with Alsatian-style dry Riesling and dry Gewürztraminer, the pioneering Edna Valley AVA producer has also developed a reputation for complex, layered Pinot Noir that bears out in the recently-released 2012 Classic Pinot Noir, 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir and 2012 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir.
“All three Pinot Noirs are very different in flavor profile, but similar in style,” said Winemaker, Coby Parker-Garcia. “At Claiborne & Churchill we do not produce an extracted, heavy Pinot Noir. Instead, we try to reflect Pinot Noir’s inherent elegance and complexity. All our grapes are grown within 3.5 miles of the Pacific Ocean, which helps when it comes to balance between acidity and fruit, as well as aging potential.”
2012 Classic Pinot Noir (1,222 cases produced, $28)
Since the late 1980s the “Classic” Pinot Noir has been a staple of Claiborne & Churchill’s repertoire, and has always been made to showcase the elegance and complexities of Pinot Noir from the Edna Valley. With fruit sourced from Wolff Vineyards and Twin Creeks Vineyards, the 2012 vintage balances flavors of ripe cherries, herbs and spices and aromas of vanilla, cherries, and lightly toasted oak. The Classic Pinot’s smooth mouthfeel, silky tannins, and good acidity makes this wine a perfect match for wild Alaskan salmon, lamb chops, duck breast, and an assortment of cheeses.
2012 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir (236 cases produced, $42)
The coveted Twin Creeks Pinot Noir is distinguished by its source: a collection of small vineyards on and around Twin Creeks Way, just down the road from the winery. These vineyards’ special soil and clonal selections help give the Twin Creeks its famous bold and spicy flavors, vivid cola and earthy aromas, and outstanding ageability. Pair it with lamb, duck, or beef bourguignon.
2012 Runestone Pinot Noir (173 cases produced, $48)
To produce the Runestone Pinot Noir, sold exclusively to members of the Claiborne & Churchill Cellar Club, Coby Parker-Garcia selected eight standout barrels from the 2012 vintage, which he blended together to create a remarkably elegant yet complex wine. Fruit was sourced from Twin Creeks Vineyard, located on the west side of the Edna Valley, where the cool, coastal climate and heavy clay soils provides exceptional quality; as well as Wolff Vineyards, on the east side, which grows Pinot Noir that yields undeniably fleshy fruit-forward flavors. Together, these vineyards produce a wine that balances its soft tannin and velvety mouth feel with ample fruit notes. The 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir offers vivid aromas of cherry, dried strawberries, and hints of oak. The palate is complex, layered with bright cherry, sweet raspberry, dark fruit and baking spice, with a finish that is ethereal and long lasting. A quintessential wine for pairing with winter fare, the 2012 Runestone Pinot Noir complements rack of lamb, sage-brushed turkey, and wild Alaskan salmon, and will continue to develop and improve over the next 8-10 years.
About Claiborne & Churchill Winery
Founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill, Claiborne & Churchill Winery is a small, family-owned winery devoted to producing Alsatian-style wines in California’s pastoral Edna Valley appellation. After successful careers in academia, Clay and Fredericka established C&C with a special focus on the dry, fruity, and food-friendly wines of eastern France’s Alsace region, namely Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Sourced from cool-climate vineyards that support these varietals’ naturally high acidity and elegance, C&C wines have won critical and popular acclaim for over 30 years. In 2007 Clay passed his position as Winemaker to Coby Parker-Garcia, who continues to emphasize minimal manipulation of both fruit and wine today. C&C’s straw bale cellar and tasting room – the first of its kind in California – is open to the public every day from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. at 2649 Carpenter Canyon Road in San Luis Obispo, California.