Father John is a boutique Pinot Noir producer from the Russian River Valley offering a single wine from Oehlman Vineyard on Vine Hill Road just outside Graton. Proprietor and winemaker Nick Maloney is currently living in Burgundy and finishing his studies at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune, as well as working with Domaine Rollin in Pernand Vergelesses. The 2012 Father John Pinot Noir is currently the only American Pinot Noir to be found in multiple restaurants in Burgundy!
Nick strives to feature acidity and delicacy, not power or ripeness. Recently, Nick poured his 2012 Father John Russian River Valley Pinot Noir at a blind tasting among vignerons from Pernand Vergelesses including Domaine Rapet, Delarche, Marey, Denis, Francoise Jeanniard, Pavelot and Rollin. As everyone tried the Farmer John Pinot Noir, no one could decide if it was old or new world. The crowd was puzzled, but approved of the wine as no one spoke about its flaws. Mr. Rapet then spoke about it and said that it was a good wine with absolutely no flaws, and the crowd seemed to agree with his statement.
When Nick’s boss, Remi Rollin, told everyone that it was a California Pinot Noir, everything changed! Many vignerons started to grumble. They declared that the wine had multiple flaws including lack of acidity, over ripeness, jammy fruit, and unbalance. Nick said, “I explained a bit about the wine and the small production, but everyone was now a bit ticked off and didn’t like the wine anymore.”
Nick told me that the blind tasting proved the power of a product being rejected because of provenance or competition, not on actual quality. Nick noted, “Burgundy winemakers believe that they are the only ones who can really make fantastic Pinot Noir.” Ultimately, it proved to be a humorous event where opinions shifted dramatically regarding wine quality when the provenance of the wine was unveiled.