When you talk about modern American wine pioneers, Josh Jensen’s name belongs near the top of the list. Perhaps no single person did more to elevate an entire region, than Jensen’s work in the Central Coast. His purchase of the Calera in 1975 was first met with confusion when he chose such a high spot in the remote Gavilan Mountains. “Would the grapes even ripen?”
But the vineyard he planted, Mt. Harlan would go on to have its own AVA, become the reference point for cool-climate Pinot Noir In the U.S. and would forever change the minds of foreign consumers who previously were convinced Americans could only make Cabs and oaky Chardonnay.
But Jensen was always playing with an ace up his sleeve. Having worked harvests at both DRC and Dujac – he believed he knew the secret for making the world’s best cool climate Pinot – precious limestone soils. His 324 acre purchase at 1800ft elevation in San Benito for just $18,000 was like striking gold, only it wasn’t gold he struck, it was limestone.
The remote location certainly came with a handful of operations headaches (running power and water through a neighbors property as the only access point for one), but for a determined man who knew what he was sitting on, nothing was going to stop Jensen from recreating DRC in California.
The gamble has obviously paid off. In addition to all the amazing wines that have come off the property over the last 40 years, Calera has also received some of the highest praise in the industry. San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the year. Cover of Wine Spectator. Four times named to Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries in the World & perhaps the highest praise of all for Josh – Robert Parker calling Calera “California’s Romanée-Conti.”
94 Points, Wine Enthusiast
Aromas of dried cherry, dark-red flower, smoked meat and black plum pudding come together in subtle ways on the nose of this bottling. The palate picks up more spice in the form of star anise and gingerbread, with lingering acidity driving cranberry and vanilla flavors into the finish.
92 Points, Parker’s Wine Advocate
The 2016 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard aged 17 months in 30% new French oak. It has a pale to medium ruby-purple color and a nose of crushed blackberries, black cherries, underbrush, potpourri and red fruit sparks. Medium-bodied with a good core of earthy fruit, it has a sturdy frame and juicy freshness, finishing long and nuanced.
92 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Aged 10 months in 10% new French oak, the 2017 Pinot Noir Central Coast has a pale to medium ruby color and open, inviting aromas of wild blackberries, oolong tea leaves, dried cranberries and cherries with touches of underbrush, charcuterie, dried flowers and earth. The palate is light to medium-bodied with a firm, finely grained frame and earth-laced fruits, finishing with lovely freshness and spice.