L’usine ‘Santa Rita Hills’ Pinot Noir 2018
Grape Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Growing Region: Santa Rita Hills, California - USA
*Founder / Winemaker: David Phinney
In January 2020 David Phinney released his Andy Warhol-inspired range of wine bottles. Californian winemaker Dave Phinney, who was behind the wine ‘The Prisoner’ - which quickly achieved a cult following, then went on to establish Orin Swift Wines. This label called L’usine - French for ‘The Factory’ - pays homage to Andy Warhol’s ‘The Factory’, his New York City studio that became a hangout for artists and other creative types.
Choosing such a name, Warhol was ‘tongue-in-cheek’ making fun of the art world in all its loftiness, embracing the idea that art is something that requires hard work. As Dave says, so it goes with wine, he also adds: “Like with art, for every good or great wine that is made there have been thousands of failures.” - thankfully there have been few failures with his avantgarde wines.
Though it must be said that L’usine does not aim to be an everyday wine. The label’s focus is on Pinot Noir, with grapes sourced from what Dave calls some of California’s most desirable vineyard plots. Adding to the artsy aspect of the wine, is the artwork on the bottles, which feature women photographed in a highly stylized way that Phinney says was inspired by Warhol.
Dave designs and art-directs all his labels with the help of some iconic artists and brilliant modern-day photographers - like Caitlin Mitchell, and seeks to create a relationship between consumer and wine that is indelible yet still full of mystery with each successive release. The wines definitely deliver. They are unapologetically expressive, yet with a backbone of varietal typicity that holds them in place. Dave is not afraid to mix vineyards and appellations to create the desired alchemy for each wine.
The fruit for this wine was sourced from Dave’s Santa Rita Hills Vineyard with 60 hectares of vines planted with Pinot Noir. All of the fruit was hand-harvested and once it arrived at the winery was 100% destemmed and cold soaked for around 4-5 days. Each of the picking plots were kept separate, as the juice sat on skins from 16 to 21 days during fermentation the cap was punched down 3-4 times a day depending on each parcel. The wine was gravity racked into French oak barrels (40% new) for 9 months and sat on lees, with no stirring, and just before bottling it was lightly filtered.
★ On the appealing nose you have aromas of dark cherries, pomegranate, raspberries, dried herbs, and a hint of vanilla. The broad and engaging palate is far from shy, confidently expressing ripe redcurrants, cherry-chocolate and highlights of dried sage and other Asian spice that follow through. A strong varietal backbone of natural fruit acidity and the decisive deft use of oak have created a memorable lengthy finish.
This 2018 L’usine ‘Santa Rita Hills’ Pinot Noir has 15.2% Alc./vol. Crafted in a classic dry style. Mild decanting of around 30-40 minutes and serve in an appropriately shaped wine glass at 15° - 17°C. *NZ$124.00
CELLARING POTENTIAL: *(Review 3/3/23)
With mild decanting drinking well this season: and will age well for another 7 - 8 years.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Perfect wine pairing with lamb or pork cutlets with a cherry sauce, duck breast, mushroom & truffle gnocchi and varied pasta dishes w/ a wine sauce, earthy vegetarian cuisine and pâté on toast - enjoy.