2017 Father John, Mendochino Coast Pinot NoirUdsolgt
Sonoma County native Nicholas Maloney launched Father John Wines in 2010 during his stay in France with a Pinot Noir from Oehlman Vineyard on Vine Hill Road in Sebastopol. The name, Father John, is a dedication to the late Reverend, John Weaver, a renowned Episcopal priest and Nicholas’ grandfather.
Nicholas has an impressive winemaking resume, having graduated from the world-renown Lycée Viticole in Burgundy and worked in Haute Svoie, Margaux, Maison Ilan in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Domaine Rollin in Pernand-Verglesses. Nicholas’ wines are one of the few American Pinot Noirs to be found on restaurant lists in Burgundy and his wines are especially popular with the Swiss, Belgians, Danish and English. European exports make up a significant amount of total sales.
Nicholas has planted a vineyard on his family’s apple ranch located just outside the city limits of Sebastopol. The first estate-grown Pinot Noir from this site has been bottled and will be a cult wine demanding $395 a bottle.
Nicholas has been particularly attracted to the potential of Northern Mendocino County, specifically the town of Comptche. He truly believes Comptche to be one of California’s next top Pinot Noir regions. Located north of the Anderson Valley, Comptche is the only California appellation that is planted solely to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (only 1.5 acres of Chardonnay) and there are several vineyards in this region. Nicholas believes his Comptche wines rival or surpass Chambertin wines.
Nicholas’ Pinot Noir wines are all 100% whole-cluster fermented with Indigenous yeasts but he typically inoculates for malolactic fermentation. A small amount of new French oak is used for aging (the Old Vines bottling reviewed below saw no new oak). The wines are never filtered. There are also a few techniques instrumental to the house style that no other producer in the world utilizes but Nicholas prefers to keep those techniques private.