I first bottled a ‘Big Brother’ Pinot Noir in 1999 as a Russian River Valley sibling to another bottling only made that year: 1999 ‘Little Sister.’ They were my attempt at describing each other while describing their own personalities at the same time. ‘Big Brother’ was like an early teenage male with great potential that is hanging back and not showing everything there is to offer. ‘Little Sister’ was his younger sister who was more transparent saying “here I am!” I didn’t have a similar situation wine-wise for a long time after that first vintage, so I quit thinking about using the pair of designations.
Then, in 2006, I began working with a small block of Pinot Noir on the Sonoma Coast near Annapolis where the character was very much like that 1999 Big Brother in that it was a bit thicker, richer, darker-fruited version of the variety for the general region. Lacking a more apt description for the wine from Annapolis, ‘Big Brother’ returned as a Sonoma Coast wine with the 2006 vintage without any siblings to be compared to. More weighty, dark fruited and savory than other coastal Pinot Noir sites I have worked with, due to its construction it seems to satisfy Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers who are exploring Pinot Noir as well as experienced Pinot lovers. There has yet to be another ‘Little Sister’ to co-market.
Nice, dark fruits, fresh plum, some telltale savory/herbal notes are on the aroma. Very full, rich mouthfeel with surprising freshness despite the acidity taking a somewhat more subordinate role in holding up the structural duties. There is a seductive mid-palate plummy core that holds court among the other elements, somewhat like how the King Pinot Noirs from 2012 and 2013 have. In short, this wine is sexy, silky and ready for business. It really doesn’t sound like a slam dunk for the original ‘Big Brother’ description any more. This idea has evolved a bit just as all brothers probably do.
It has been a joy to work with this site for just about a decade with Kirk Lokka farming it. He knew the site intimately and helped me to avoid the mistake of harvesting too late on this fast-maturing vineyard site. Unfortunately, in 2014 the vineyard ownership and farming changed (twice) during the months after this vintage. I ultimately felt that without the close alignment of goals, continuity and working relationship with the people farming the site it was time to move on. The current owners and I were equally happy to tear up the contract and go our separate ways. Enjoy the end of a beautiful era here with this 2014 Big Brother. It is one of my favorite vintages from the site. It is fitting to finish on a high note.