1999 ‘Big Brother’ Pinot Noir and 1999 ‘Little Sister’ Pinot Noir: both of these wines were essentially born of a neighboring winery’s clonal trial in the Russian River Valley. They did not have the red wine making experience to fully evaluate their trial and approached me with an offer impossible to refuse. We have all learned something from the process.
While the best Pinot Noir sites I had worked with in my past life at Dehlinger were primarily grown on the rare red clay outcroppings with AXR-1 as the rootstock, the vines that made up these 1999s were mostly grown on 3309C rootstock in the sandy Goldridge soil type. This is a common soil type in the area.
There were about 16 fermentation lots, mostly from the clonal trial. Blending these 1999 Pinot Noirs was a real challenge. First, there was no single fermentation lot that was a complete, balanced wine to start adding elements to (like a makeup artist would merely highlight the natural beauty of the subject). Second, having no previous experience with these clones in these sites made it less certain to predict how they would marry and develop over time. It soon became apparent that there were two distinct flavor profiles and balances that otherwise fought in a single blend. Hence, the two Russian River Wines. ‘‘Little Sister’ is a prettier, more zippy, red-fruited expression of the Pinot Noir, and ‘Big Brother’ has a more dark-fruited, brooding and mysterious side, as though pretending to originate from the clay. Both wines exhibit their goldridge origin, nonetheless. Their names describe their personality tones rather than sheer size. While they will not require aging in order to be enjoyed, they will probably age quite well.
Judi Scherrer –
Wine & Spirits – Winter 2001, 100 Best wines of 2001
Best Pinot Noir: Though Fred Scherrer made some great pinots at Dehlinger, today his own label is better known for zinfandel. Perhaps the brawniness, the sturdiness of this wine comes from that background, taste or stylistic preference. But it’s all pinot, all forest floor, earthiness and decay. All about complexity rather than fruit, and that complexity lasts. The extract and fruit is there, it’s just packed in and muscular as a male dancer, with the sort of focused energy, grace and strength that combines in a soaring tour jete’. Wine to cellar, to drink with game or red meat. 95 Points.
Judi Scherrer –
Connoisseurs’ Guide – July 2001
Nomenclature notwithstanding, this wine and its family mate (Little Sister) share more than similar parentage. They are very similar in flavor depth and overall richness even though “Big Brother” is easily the more sturdy of the two. Yet, very ripe, sweet red cherry fruit occupies the center of both, and they both are rounded and velvety in texture. To our way of thinking, this one is more likely to live up to its aromatic promise with a few years of again than its more open sibling. 92 points, 2 puffs