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2015 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Riddle Vineyards

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Sojourn is one of my favorite tasting experiences in downtown Sonoma. Snuggled into a small home on the edge of the Plaza, it's intimate, cozy and always well presented. And the wines are consistently delicious. For more on the tasting experience check out the winery report here.

Riddle Vineyard is perched on a ridge above Green Valley at an elevation of 750 feet on the cool Sonoma Coast where morning foggy gives way to sunny days and cooling evening breezes. It's a bit south and west of the Russian River area, although this site is also favored with that amazing sandy loam soil similar to the Russian River AVA that makes for some of Sonoma's best Pinots.

Sojourn's Riddle Vineyard Pinots are known for their balanced, layered character. This 2015 follows the playbook to a T, and was a perfect pairing for the ricotta gnocchi I had planned for the evening. The color was medium dark, a beautiful dense ruby. even with 6 years in the bottle. No garnet at the edges. Bordering on intense, the aromas lifted gently from the glass featuring a ripe, dark cherry core, like pie filling before it's baked, with bright red plum dancing at the fringe. There is a brambly quality to the fruit that pulls in earthy notes as well. Not to be overshadowed, aromas of cola add a touch of sweetness and there's a bit of oak to the aroma profile. Overall, a really rich, ripe preface to the tasting.

The Riddle vineyard is planted to Mt Eden clone which forms that rich, dark cherry base and Pommard clones that bring the bright red berry to the party. The entry is nicely balanced. More cherry fruit with red plum, finishing up with a bit of pomegranate tartness. A fresh acidity halos the fruit, enhancing the brightness of this seven year old bottle. It was still wonderfully fresh. That bright halo then transitions to gentle, fine tannins. The wine was aged in 50% new French oak and there is enough tannin present to maintain structure before giving preference to a dense cherry driven finish that exposes cola notes as it slowly, slowly fades.

This wine has some range in pairing. I paired this with feather light ricotta gnocchi, tossed with sauce featuring chunky tomatoes, olives, garlic, onions and fresh oregano from the garden. Pecorino Romano was an ideal accent and the Riddle Pinot paired perfectly, neither overwhelming the gnocchi, nor fading in the face of the Pecorino cheese. At 14.4% ABV and with its intensity, I could see this Pinot easily stretch up to pair with more robust meals, but with its medium body mouthfeel and medium acidity, it was flexible enough to play nicely with the gnocchi.

Riddle Vineyards is a good choice for lovers of Pinot Noir that lean toward a New World style, featuring rich red fruit and medium acidity with some added layered complexity. Fruit plays a major role, but there's enough counterpoint with bramble, earth and oak to make this wine keep the palate interested glass, after glass.

Sojourn remains one of my favorite Sonoma Pinots and I really enjoy the breadth that they offer, featuring the unique AVAs of Sonoma from the far north coast with their Walala Vineyards, to Gap's Crown in the windy Petaluma Gap, to the Sangiacomo, Rodgers Creek and Durrell vineyards that highlight Southern Sonoma. Check them out.

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