Visit to Thomas Fogarty Winery – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and some Nebbiolo from a beautiful spot in the Santa Cruz Mountains

At Thomas Fogarty Winery I met with the knowledgeable, friendly and very engaged Marshal White who gave me a good tour of both cellar and vineyards. We also had an extensive tasting including both different vintages and a wide range of vineyards.

At Thomas Fogarty Winery they also experiment with the Nebbiolo grape and I had a chance to try some of their vintages from the barrel. Being a fan of the Nebbiolo grape I found this very interesting and I am excited about their work with the grape. Personally I think their philosophy of how to manage the grape, with a hands-off approach and avoidance of oak influence, is good, and my initial impressions were positive.

A few short notes about how Thomas Fogarty Winery produce their wines

  • They use natural yeast for fermentation
  • The Pinot Noirs age 12 months in oak of which approximately 15-20% new oak.
  • The Chardonnays age 12 months in oak and 6 months in stainless steel.
  • They use approximately 35% whole clusters for the Pinot Noirs.
  • Acidity and alcohol are never adapted artificially and they do not use other additives than as little sulfur dioxide as possible
  • They do not have any certification for the work in the vineyards, but they are inspired by organic, sustainable, and biodynamic practices.

Tasting notes for the wines from Thomas Fogarty Winery

2012 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Portola Springs Vineyard

Intense tropical fruit where some sharp pineapple notes dominate but also citrus and some slight oak notes. There is a fresh lime acidity with good precision and this gives a mouthwatering finish to the wine.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Albutom Santa Cruz Mountains

The nose is elegant but rather restrained with fresh stone fruit and some lime. On the palate there are similar fruit notes but also a vibrant lime acidity. This is a very precise and well balanced wine that has a long life ahead.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Chardonnay Langley Hill Vineyard

Ripe pineapple and other tropical fruit notes but also some smoke and floral notes. The acidity is rather soft and with lemon notes. This is a generous and rather broad wine.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

High pitched and intense fruit notes with some floral notes as well. Has an acidic attack on the palate but of good quality and it complements the fruit that is rather dense on the palate. Nice personality on this entry level Pinot Noir.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir La Vida Bella Vineyard

From a vineyard near the coast, with sandy soil.

An abundance of strawberries, raspberries and marzipan on this fresh and rather forward wine. The tannins are very silky and the acidity careful. Straight forward and rather fruity Pinot Noir with a slim profile.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Mindego Ridge

Planted 2009 with Dijon clone.

Rather dark fruit on this dense Pinot Noir with cherries and some blackberries but also some earthy notes and spices. High acidity and with a tannic bite. This wine has a Gevrey Chambertin touch to it. Will be interesting to see how this vineyard will develop.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Will’s Cabin Vineyard

This is a rather slim and tight wine with young berry notes of mainly raspberries and strawberries. The acidity is rather high and the fine grained tannins have a sharp bite. Will be interesting how this wine evolves, but it will need some time to integrate. Right now it is slightly harsh.

2014 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Will’s Cabin Vineyard

On both nose and palate the raspberries are in the front seat but there are also darker notes from blackberries, licorice and herbs. On the palate the acidity is soft and with a tingling sensation and the fruit gets a sweet touch. Very pleasant and easy to like Pinot Noir.

2013 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Kent Berry Vineyard

Own rooted Mount Eden clone, planted 1990.

Quite careful nose but still with some dense cherries, blackberries and hints of marzipan. Nice acidity with a cool expression and fine grained tannins with some bite. On the palate the fruit is slightly tart. This wine is rather closed right now but has great potential.

2012 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir Rapley Trail Vineyard

This is an open and forward wine with cherries, dark berries and some herbal and spicy notes. The palate shows some fine grained tannic structure and a soft but precise acidity. Generous and easy to enjoy Pinot Noir.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Thomas Fogarty Winery

My impressions of the wines from Thomas Fogarty Winery are very positive. These are well balanced wines with nice transparency, beautiful multi layered fruit notes and good structure. Some of the wines show slight oak notes but these are not particularly dominant. This is a winery that focus much on their great vineyards and they have a rather hands-off approach in the cellar. For me the quality of their Chardonnays was a positive surprise.

The Chardonnays from Thomas Fogarty Winery are rather different depending on which vineyard they are from, but some common denominators are the tropical fruit and the citric acidity. My favorite was the 2013 Albutom Chardonnay that had a rather restrained profile but and amazingly precise and energetic acidity.

For the Pinot Noirs I had a chance to try wines from 2012 to 2014 and from several vineyards, and again the terroir and vintage shine through in the personalities of the different wines. Some general characteristics are a rather dense fruit notes that can range from slightly sweet strawberries to some intense blackberries. The acidity is of good quality and several wines has a clear tannic bite. My favourite was the 2013 Kent Berry Vineyard Pinot Noir.

 

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