Maggy Hawk is a beautiful vineyard in the deep end of the Anderson Valley, and I tasted through these wines with winemaker Sarah Wuethrich. Barbara Banke (wife of the late Jess Jackson and now proprietor of Jackson Family Wines) bought it in 1994 with the last legal fees she earned as a lawyer. It was Cattle grazing land, and in 2000 she decided to plant it to Pinot Noir, using five clones – 115, 667, 777, Wadenswil and Pommard.
The vineyard is quite beautiful, with nice slopes, and 58 acres of Pinot were planted in 2000 and 2001. There are 15 blocks, two rootstocks (101-14, 3309C), and two soil types (Bearwallow [more clay/less sandstone] and Wolfey [more sandstone/less clay]).
‘In May 2022, we grafted 5 acres to Chardonnay,’ says Sarah, ‘clones 17 (Robert Young), 70 (Dijon 96), and 1068 (Cote d’Or); I will get my hands on some this vintage, and hope to make a sister chardonnay to the Skycrest as well as a Blanc de Blancs.
The farming isn’t certified organic, but they eliminated herbicides in 2018, and also converted from cordon/spur to cane pruning that year. As of 2023, the vineyard is full no-till; in previous growing seasons, they did alternate till every 2 years. They have recently established six pollinator garden patches throughout property and a fruit orchard to increase biodiversity. And pushing further in a regenerative direction, they are prepping to receive sheep, which will probably arrive in 2024.
‘I’ve travelled to wine regions around the world and when I first came here it was so impressive,’ says Sarah. Her goal each vintage is to make four Pinots each with their own style. There were six but they weren’t all distinctive, so she cut two out and then deliberately set out to make each of the four wines in different styles. Her first vintage here was 2017.
The wines are all named after horses – Maggy Hawk was a prized racehorse and the four Pinots are named after the offspring of this horse. The labels were designed by Tasmanian artist Olivia Moroney, and they are engraved plates in black and white based on the vineyard blocks.
In terms of winemaking, Sarah likes using whole bunch and the proportion of whole cluster in each wine varies from 25-100%. There are 35 Pinot lots in the winery each year.
All the Pinots are unfined and unfiltered, but the whites are filtered. Yeasts are a mix of native ferments (especially for whole cluster ferments) and some cultured yeasts, including bayanus which is what she prefers.
Maggy Hawk Jolie Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley, California
This aims to express red fruit character, and leads with 115 clone. No whole cluster here. 10% new oak. This is focused and quite taut with lovely structure. This is nicely dense with some pretty red cherry and raspberry notes, with some restraint. Lovely red fruit focus here with nice weight on the palate. It’s not heavy, but there’s a good concentration here. 93/100
Maggy Hawk Unforgettable Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley, California
Mostly 667 with some 777 and a bit of Wadenswil. 30% new oak, 30% whole cluster. This has beautiful black cherry, strawberry and plum fruit with a nice savoury twist. It’s really textural and pretty, but there’s some structure here. Has some generosity and an ease to it, with nice elegance. 94/100
Maggy Hawk Afleet Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley, California
40% whole cluster, 20% new French oak. This has lovely flesh with some nice tannic structure and supple green hints from the stems that integrate beautifully. Beautiful red fruits with nice texture and a real silkiness. This has a freshness, it has plenty of lush fruit, but it’s also brilliantly balanced. 95/100
Maggy Hawk Stormin’ Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley, California
50% new French oak, 777 clone leads (it’s the last to ripen and presents the black fruit character). This is the big one: lots of power and structure here with black cherry and blackberry fruit supported by some spicy oak that frames the ripe fruit nicely. This is bold and delicious. 94/100
Maggy Hawk White Pinot Noir 2021 Anderson Valley, California
Old oak. Lovely weight and texture here with pear, white peach, a bit of table grape character, showing nice texture and some fine mineral notes as well as generous fruit. Lovely balance here with some generosity but also a bit of structure. 92/100
Maggy Hawk Chardonnay Skycrest Vineyard 2020 Anderson Valley, California
From a vineyard at 1500-2000 feet in the south of the valley above Boonville. Four different clones. Sandstone soils. Foot tread in macrobin, press oxidatively, then in barrel without stirring lees. Lovely weight here: pear, peach and some fine spicy notes. There’s just a hint of flint in the background, with lovely depth and weight. There’s real finesse here. 94/100
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