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2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County

Bobby Fetzer managed the vineyards and bought grapes for his family’s Fetzer Vineyards,[1] founded in 1968, until the business was sold to Brown-Forman in 1992. Four years later, he bought 1,500 acres of rugged land adjacent to his old “home ranch.” The following year, he and his sons, Jake and Ben, began planting Pinot Noir on the new site which he named “Masút Ranch.” [Masút means “dark, rich earth” in the language of the Pomo, a local indigenous people.]

Bobby died in a rafting accident back in 2006, but Ben and Jake moved forward with his dream and tradition of responsible agriculture. They built a winery in one of their dad’s old redwood barns, constructed from reclaimed timber. They tend all the vines by hand. The ranch is home to a wide range of native flora and fauna. And, when he’s not busy with grapes and wine, Ben also wrangles the organic Black Angus cattle on his family’s ranch in Covelo.

The original 23-acre Masut was divided into 13 blocks with a total of 20,506 vines. Three Dijon clones (113, 115 and 777) are represented. Now there are an additional ten acres (5 blocks) with a little UCD 23 Pinot, but mostly Sangiovese. The vineyard has been certified organic from the first planting. 2009 was the first vintage for their estate Pinot Noir.

This particular pocket of land in the Russian River headlands is unique. It receives cool ocean breezes but the sloping vineyard faces away from the searing setting sun. Pinot Noir isn’t a recommended variety in the neighboring Redwood Valley AVA which is too warm. Masút Ranch, though, could be considered cool climate and resulting Pinot Noir wines are graceful, hence the well-merited Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA proposal.

The 2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir shows aromas of black cherry, tangy red cherry and pie spice. It’s medium-bodied on the palate which opens with a slightly creamy texture and flavors of elegant brown spice and macerated cherry. Moving toward the finish, lightly grainy tannins appear along with saline minerality. The 2012 Masút Estate is a very enjoyable Pinot Noir: balanced, supple and easy-to-drink. Best now through 2018. Highly Recommended

12-estate 22012 Masút Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2018

Closure: Cork
Retail Price: $40.00

Winemaker: Ben & Jake Fetzer
Blend: Pinot Noir (Dijon clones: 115 - 73%, 777 - 18% and 113 - 9%)

Origin: Masút Estate Vineyard, Mendocino County (Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA pending), certified organic
Fermentation: Whole berry, destemmed, open top fermenters for 14 - 18 days
Aging: 10 months in French oak, 33% new
Alcohol: 13.9%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 54º - 58º F

Interpreting my wine ratings


Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

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This article is original to Copyright 2014 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

  1. Concha y Toro purchased Fetzer Vineyards from Brown-Forman for about $238 million in early 2011.  ↩