Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

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Corey N.
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Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#1 Post by Corey N. » September 26th, 2020, 5:53 pm

I have been drinking Briceland wines since they first participated in BerserkerDay and have long maintained that the SVD Pinots are the best value Pinot Noir in California. I recently opened a bottle of the 2015 Ronda's -- the most structured of the Briceland SVDs and my favorite of the SVDs -- and really enjoyed it.
  • 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Humboldt County (9/18/2020)
    Nose of sweet, sappy red fruit and white flowers. On the palate dark red fruit with hints of green herbs, white flowers and a long finish. Concentrated with high acidity and refined tannins. While drinking well now, this wine will improve with short term aging and should last through 2030. (92 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker

By happy coincidence, it turns out that SommSelect featured this wine as today's daily offer...clearly Ian Cauble is stalking my cellartracker for suggestions. Joking aside, Ian's effusiveness is justified -- well done Andrew!
The SparkNotes? Today’s rare, Burgundy-toppling library release from the backwoods of Humboldt is my sleeper wine of 2020. But the full story very much deserves to be heard, so please indulge me while I explain why my head is still spinning from today’s elegant and disarmingly aromatic Pinot Noir. Back in early July, an old acquaintance told me if I made the trek to Humboldt County that weekend, he could set up a meeting with Andrew Morris of Briceland Vineyards. I lurched at the opportunity. This was a name I was extremely familiar with, but my encounters with his wines were limited, and the dearth of information had turned him into somewhat of a legend in my mind. What my family and I discovered in this hidden oasis was anything but: Andrew is quietly crafting real, breathtaking wine here, and today’s 2015 absolutely rocked my world. This isn’t just world-class Pinot—it’s worthy of the history books, and should serve as the singular, global reference point for Humboldt’s remote “Burgundian” terroir.

A highly secreted wine scene is buzzing throughout this vast expanse of towering Redwoods and cloistered vineyards, and the origin story leads to Briceland Vineyards. Truly, they are the OGs of Humboldt wine, pioneers who disproved the naysayers by devoting years of painstaking climatic and soil science research before breaking ground and planting their first vines in the ‘70s. Ever since, a quiet revolution has been forming, and Briceland’s organic, long-aged, unfiltered/unfined Pinots have garnered a devout underground following. Want to try one? Typically, I’d say tough luck, as they’re produced in pitifully small quantities and have practically no retail exposure. But today, after striking up a direct deal, you have access to his stunning 2015 “Ronda’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir. Only 117 total cases were originally produced, and we’re in possession of the final few.

Founded in 1985 by Joe Collins, a UC Davis-trained enologist with decades of experience, Briceland Vineyards is the antithesis of a vanity project—this artisan estate laid the winegrowing foundation for Humboldt County and, for 35 years and counting, has been the untouchable gold standard in the region. According to The Prince of Pinot blog, Joe was “involved in the planning, establishment and management of practically all the early vineyards suited to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.” Today, his stepson Andrew Morris is the reigning proprietor/winemaker and the wines he handcrafts here hold an unbelievable degree of quality, value, and purity. Despite Briceland’s rich history and local fame, these wines are still incredibly hard to track down: you must either drive up to meet him personally or stumble upon one of his rare, self-run flash sales on an online forum—yes you heard me correctly.

With 1,000+ farmsteads claiming stake to Humboldt County’s 2.3 million acres of land, and a quiet charm and climate akin to Burgundy, you’d think this would be a wine epicenter. But, in reality, only around 150 acres are planted to wine grapes. Accordingly, every row, every vine, is treasured. As for Ronda’s Vineyard? This is high, high-elevation stuff: Perched at 1,600 feet above sea level, just a few miles northwest of Briceland’s home base, this terraced, south-facing vineyard is perfect for Pinot Noir. It experiences cool fog and wide diurnal shifts, is largely protected from harsh wines due to a natural amphitheater of trees, and the nearly 40-year-old vines are rooted in rich rocky loam and decomposed limestone.

All farming is carried out with a strict organic mindset—chemicals/synthetics have never touched this piece of land—and harvesting by hand occurs well into October, which results in more hang time, ripening, and overall balance. In 2015, Andrew harvested Ronda’s Vineyard in two passes, October 11th and October 18th. In the winery, the grapes fermented in five French barrels, one new, and then continued aging for a total of 23 months—that’s nearly two years in oak! After blending, the wine was bottled without fining or filtration. This final parcel has only just left the cellar, and is current en route to our warehouse.

NOTE: Some of your bottles may have a crystalized ring at the neck, just under the cork, but have no fear: these are harmless, naturally occurring tartrates (tartaric acid buildup) that Andrew chose not to remove in order to keep the wine as pure as possible. We suggest decanting the wine for 30 minutes, and by the time you pour it into Burgundy stems, the tartrate crystals will have sunk to the bottom of the decanter.

Now, onto the good stuff: If this wine doesn’t blow you away, I’ll be shocked—genuinely shocked. It pours a limpid, radiant ruby in the glass with hints of magenta and wastes no time revealing five years of gorgeous Pinot Noir evolution. Expect jaw-droppingly pure notes of ripe black cherry skin, orange peel, wild strawberry, pomegranate seeds, and ripe red plum next to an earthy fusion of forest floor, petrichor, loose tea, crushed rose petal, and supple baking spices. This comes in at a mere 12.9% alcohol—whoever said Pinot Noir wouldn’t work in cool-climate Humboldt was a fool—yet still delivers an extraordinary level of detail and nuanced profundity on the palate à la Burgundy. Every sip is accompanied with breathtaking finesse, but it’s the pronounced acidic lift and fine-grained tannins that ultimately allow the wine to glide across your palate. At five years old, this has entered its greatest drinking window, one that will stay open for the next 5-10 years. What a stunning achievement from Briceland, and Humboldt County. Don’t miss this gem!
Did anyone else catch the sly reference to BerserkerDay?
I'm with Corey on this. - Todd W.

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Jim Brennan
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#2 Post by Jim Brennan » September 27th, 2020, 11:57 am

self-run flash sales on an online forum

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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#3 Post by CJ Beazley » September 27th, 2020, 1:14 pm

I can attest to the ‘crystallized ring at the neck’.
Btw, Andrew was very nice about explaining this.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#4 Post by Richard T r i m p i » September 27th, 2020, 3:17 pm

I jumped on some Briceland Pinots during this year's Berserker Day including some Ronda's. What a pleasant surprise. Very drinkable and a fine value!

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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#5 Post by John Morris » September 27th, 2020, 4:15 pm

I opened a bottle of the 2012 Humboldt County Pinot Reserve in May, and it was lovely. I'd been meaning to post a note.

Lots of subtle sous-bois, wet earth stuff on the nose, with some Bing cherry, a trace of celery and a bit of caramel, which I suspect was from oak. All very nicely balanced. Some oak came to the foreground on day 2 that didn't show on day one. Really a nice wine. I was in a pinot mood, and this scratched that itch.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#6 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 » September 27th, 2020, 6:30 pm

I will say they have become one of my must-buy cases each year at Berserker Day. Pinot, Petit Verdot, Zin, Gewurtz, never had a bad bottle. Solid juice.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#7 Post by I. Howe » September 28th, 2020, 4:33 am

I have historically just ordered the Syrah from Andrew. This past BD, I went mixed case. I did not take any notes, but I popped one of the Pinot over the summer and my exact thought was "Dang, this is good stuff. Why have I not ordered this before?" I did not know what to expect and was quite impressed. An easy drinking wine that paired perfectly with pizza during the week.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#8 Post by Andrew Morris » September 28th, 2020, 4:54 pm

Thanks, Corey and Gang for posting and for your comments.

The Somm Select write up may be a new record in wine babble, but I guess it is them putting their reputation on the line for the wine. Clearly, they are geniuses.

The link can be found here: https://bit.ly/2S4ymDw Click "Read Wine Notes" near the bottom to see the longer version.

I do think that Ronda's is the best Pinot site in Humboldt so far.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#9 Post by Andrew Morris » October 6th, 2020, 11:29 am

If anyone is keen, I just sent out an offer. I did hold back a bit of this wine. If you'd like the offer forwarded to you, please let me know. andrew@bricelandvineyards.com
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#10 Post by Corey N. » October 6th, 2020, 11:36 am

John Morris wrote:
September 27th, 2020, 4:15 pm
I opened a bottle of the 2012 Humboldt County Pinot Reserve in May, and it was lovely. I'd been meaning to post a note.

Lots of subtle sous-bois, wet earth stuff on the nose, with some Bing cherry, a trace of celery and a bit of caramel, which I suspect was from oak. All very nicely balanced. Some oak came to the foreground on day 2 that didn't show on day one. Really a nice wine. I was in a pinot mood, and this scratched that itch.
I liked this wine a lot. According to my notes, this was aged 30 months in oak, presumably neutral barrels (or mostly neutral barrels).
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#11 Post by I. Howe » October 8th, 2020, 12:09 pm

Andrew Morris wrote:
October 6th, 2020, 11:29 am
If anyone is keen, I just sent out an offer. I did hold back a bit of this wine. If you'd like the offer forwarded to you, please let me know. andrew@bricelandvineyards.com
Quit sending out offers Andrew. ;) I could not resist, my order for a mixed case is in your email.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#12 Post by Andrew Morris » October 8th, 2020, 5:04 pm

Sorry Ian. My bad.
I. Howe wrote:
October 8th, 2020, 12:09 pm
Andrew Morris wrote:
October 6th, 2020, 11:29 am
If anyone is keen, I just sent out an offer. I did hold back a bit of this wine. If you'd like the offer forwarded to you, please let me know. andrew@bricelandvineyards.com
Quit sending out offers Andrew. ;) I could not resist, my order for a mixed case is in your email.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#13 Post by B Sutton » October 15th, 2020, 6:13 pm

CJ Beazley wrote:
September 27th, 2020, 1:14 pm
I can attest to the ‘crystallized ring at the neck’.
Btw, Andrew was very nice about explaining this.
Ha! Same here...the first time I ordered from him I had to ask and he was more than happy to explain it to me.

While I haven’t had this Pinot (but got my order in) I’m always a buyer on anything labeled “Ishi Pishi Ranch.” They are all fantastic and reasonably priced. The Syrah is a personal favorite. Just great value all around and I look forward to every offer.
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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#14 Post by Jeffrey Neal » October 16th, 2020, 5:00 pm

I’ve found the Briceland PNs to be have an outstanding QPR. Excellent wines and the prices are real bargains. I definitely will be an ongoing customer.

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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#15 Post by Christian Gunning » October 16th, 2020, 5:04 pm

B Sutton wrote:
October 15th, 2020, 6:13 pm
While I haven’t had this Pinot (but got my order in) I’m always a buyer on anything labeled “Ishi Pishi Ranch.” They are all fantastic and reasonably priced. The Syrah is a personal favorite. Just great value all around and I look forward to every offer.
I'll second the vote for "Ishi Pishi Ranch" and the Syrah, especially. Cool climate reds approaching Northern Rhone elegance. Love Andrew's stuff. I'm usually in for a mixed case, and always throw in some Gewurztraminer and Arneis. His whites are lovely.

Recently discovered I was down to a lone bottle of Gewurz, so put in for another mixed case. This time around I opted for some Viognier (again from Ishi Pishi Ranch) instead of the Arneis, and got my usual Gewurz and IPR Syrah. Looking forward to finally trying the Pinots this time around, both the '15 and '16 Ronda's Vineyard.

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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#16 Post by Andrew Morris » October 18th, 2020, 2:39 pm

Ben, Jeffery and Christian,

Thanks for posting and thanks for your ongoing support in these unusual times.

The encouragement we have gotten from board members means a lot.
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#17 Post by paultgilmore » October 19th, 2020, 2:57 pm

I've been buying wine from Andrew since his first foray into BerserkerDay. I've continued buying outside of that wonderful day and am particularly fond of his PNs. (The last bottle of '13 Alderpoint Vineyard keeps calling me but I resist. For now.) It's not just the PNs, though. The Gewurz and Ishi Pishi Syrah are also tremendous. As is the CF and the Zin. But I digress.
If you like what I would generally characterize as old world style wines, Briceland Vineyard is certainly one to try/buy.

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Re: Ian Cauble Agrees With Me -- TN: 2015 Briceland Vineyards Pinot Noir Ronda's Vineyard

#18 Post by Chadly S » October 20th, 2020, 10:57 am

I agree completely on the Syrah and Zin. The pinots are fantastic but don't sleep on Ishi Pishi Syrah and Zin. Fantastic wines. I'm also a big fan of the white wines as well. Buy the Pinot Noirs, get hooked, and then try all the other wines. And don't be afraid to try Andrew's Cabernet Sauv, very nice.
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