New releases from Jamie Kutch, one of California’s leading Pinot and Chardonnay producers

Website: Kutch Wines (includes videos of the vineyards)

Over the last few years Jamie Kutch has emerged as one of California’s leading proponents of Pinot Noir. Working with talented cool-climate (and often marginal) sites he’s making some very exciting wines. His Chardonnays are also becoming quite serious. This was a chance to taste the new releases.

For more on the Kutch story, see this article.

Kutch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2020 California
13% alcohol. From an own-rooted vineyard planted in 1972, at 1400 ft, 3 miles from the Pacific (it’s Bohan Vineyard), this is fermented in French oak (20% new) and has minimum effective SO2 added. It’s sensational. Taut, fine and lemony with keen acidity, but no feeling of compression. There’s generous crystalline citrus fruit with a fine, spicy structure and a touch of salinity on the finish. Very pure and focused, but offering real complexity at low alcohol. There’s just a faint hint of mineral reduction and everything is in perfect harmony. This would be so hard to place tasted blind. I really love it. 96/100

Kutch Chardonnay Trout Gulch Vineyard 2020 Santa Cruz Mountains, California
13% alcohol. This is from a vineyard planted in 1977, at 600 feet, 3.5 miles from the Pacific. Sandy loam soils. Whole cluster pressing then wild ferment in 11 barrels, two of which are new. Minimal effective sulfites added. This has a vital, mineral, saline nose of taut citrus fruit. The palate is stony and mineral with keen acidity, taut lemon, pear and green apple fruit, and a slight twist of mineral reduction, as well as hints of toast and spice. Taut and expressive, and one for the long haul, I reckon. 96/100

Kutch Sans Soufre Pinot Noir 2021 Sonoma Coast, California
12% alcohol. This is from a vineyard planted in 1998, 3.5 miles from the Pacific on Greywacke and sandstone at 1010 feet. 100% whole cluster, four barrels made. It’s supple and fresh: initially there’s a bit of prickle from carbon dioxide, but then it eases into itself, showing sleek dark fruits: black cherry and blackberry. There are some supple herbal notes, with a slight lift and just the faintest touch of ethyl acetate in the background, as well a real sense of freshness. Under the sappy black fruits there’s some nice structure that melds well with the fruit. Nice weight here. So drinkable. 92/100

Kutch Mindego Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 Santa Cruz Mountains, California
12.5% alcohol. From a 10 acre vineyard planted in 2009 at 925 feet, 8 miles from the Pacific,  on silty clay loam with some schist. 75% whole bunch. There’s a lovely aromatic nose with some sweet cherry and plum fruit as well as sappy greenness and a bit of wet stone. In the mouth this is fresh and supple, with nice smooth, sweet cherry and plum fruit, showing richness and texture, but also some green freshness on the finish. Has grainy structure, and potential for development. 94/100

Kutch McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2020 Sonoma Coast, California
13% alcohol. 11 barrels only of this Pinot which comes from a vineyard at 1010 feet 3.5 miles from the Pacific, planted in 1998. Greywacke and sandstone soils, 50% whole bunch, used French oak. Rocky soils and this is a warm site, above the fog line. It has a lovely sweet black fruits nose with some mulchy whole bunch character, and fine spices in the mix. The palate has sleek black fruits with a nice hint of greenness, and then some structure book-ending the fruit. Supple, ripe, but with focus, this has the guts to age well, but it’s already highly drinkable. Brooding, swirling and a bit elusive. 94/100

Kutch Bohan Graveyard Block Pinot Noir 2019 Sonoma Coast, California
13% alcohol. From a vineyard at 1500 feet 3 miles from the Pacific planted in 1988 on sandstone soils. 100% destemmed. This has complex brooding aromatics with some green hints sitting under sweet berry fruits with some iodine/ferrous savoury complexity. The palate is sweetly fruited and fine with nice cherry and plum fruit, as well as some herbal hints and a brooding spiciness. This finishes with some tannic grip, although the silky texture of the fruit masks the structure somewhat. Lots of interest here: some pleasure but also some sternness. I reckon this has an interesting future ahead of it, and it’s really fine. 95/100

UK agent: Roberson Wines

The 2018s, tasted last year:

Kutch Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 Sonoma, California
13.2% alcohol. 42 barrels made, from a mix of vineyards aged 19-36 years old. 100% whole cluster, wild ferment, minimal SO2. This has nice density: there’s firm tannin under the raspberry and cherry fruit. There’s freshness but also some sleek texture, with a little lushness. This is bright with some grip, and there’s lots of potential for development, although you can drink it now. Some fine herbal hints in the background. 94/100

Kutch Wines McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2018 Sonoma Coast, California
13.5% alcohol. From a vineyard planted in 1998 on Greywacke and Sandstone soils at 1010 feet on an exposed southern slope, 3.5 miles from the Pacific. 100% whole bunch, naturally made with minimal SO2 additions. It’s a warm site with rocky soils and you can taste it in the wine: ripe and beautifully aromatic with sweet berry and cherry fruits, framed by gentle herbal notes, as well as lavender and mint. The palate is concentrated and beautifully poised, with some ripeness but also freshness, and a lovely berry fruit core. This has the structure to age, as well as quite a bit of concentration, but it also has some approachability. At its heart, though, this is an immense wine, combining concentration, intensity, freshness and finesse. 96/100

Kutch Wines Signal Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Mendocino Ridge, California
From 1999 plantings, seven barrels made. This vineyard is 8.9 miles from the Pacific at an altitude of 2800 ft, above the fog line. It’s the highest vineyard in Sonoma and Mendocino. 13.2% alcohol. 100% whole cluster. Floral and enticing with sweet raspberry fruit and some sappy green notes. The palate has bright spicy framing with some sweetness on the mid-palate. There’s a smoothness and silkiness here with some green hints. Shows nice grip: you can taste the stems, which add freshness and a bit of end-palate spicy edginess. 94/100

Kutch Wines Falstaff Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Sonoma Coast, California
1999 plantings 8.2 miles from the Pacific on Goldridge soils. This is a marginal site in a cold and foggy pocket of the Sonoma Coast. 23 barrels made. Supple and fresh with lovely red cherry and berry fruit. This has a nice fine, sleek texture with some rounded structure. There’s some maturity to the fruit, which is ripe and lush. Textural and elegant with great finesse. Nice grainy, grippy structure here with finesse and purity. Light and elegant. 95/100

Kutch Wines Bohan Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Sonoma Coast, California
From vines planted in 1972 at 1400 feet, 3.5 miles from the Pacific on Goldridge soils. 100% whole cluster. Aromatic, floral, peppery nose with some fine herbal hints. The palate is bright, quite light and really expressive. Generous and quite silky with some spicy, herbal framing to the red and black fruits. Just so drinkable and easy, but with a hint of seriousness. 93/100

Kutch Bohan Graveyard Block Pinot Noir 2018 Sonoma Coast, California
Four barrels made from a vineyard planted in 1988 on sandstone soils, 3 miles from the Pacific. This is supple and refined with sweet cherries and plums, showing incredible elegance and refinement. There’s some structure here, but also lovely textured fruit, with a faint cedar and spice framing. Complex and with substance, but also an incredible lightness. 96/100

There are reviews of the 2017s and 2016s elsewhere on this site.

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