The Prince of Pinot
Inman Family Winery: Constantly Evolving
by William "Rusty" Gaffney, M.D.
March 23, 2013
Kathleen Inman reminds of the song by Alicia Keys, “The Girl is on Fire.” Her winery is one of the most ecofriendly in the Russian River Valley, she is a proponent of screwcap closures, her sparkling Brut Rosé is one of the finest in all of California, she has began to tweak her Pinot Noir style with the inclusion of significant whole clusters in her ferments, and she now offers a special sit-down tasting by appointment where she offers a tasting of her higher-end offerings as well as library wines and some face time with her.
In 1998, Kathleen and Simon Inman left their careers behind in England and arrived in California where she learned winemaking while they looked for a suitable property to grow grapes. The discovered a farm for sale at the junction of Olivet and Piner Roads in the Russian River Valley. The Inmans acquired the property and named it Olivet Grange, after the family’s English country home known as The Grange at Elvington. In 2000, they planted a little over 7 acres of Pinot Noir (Dijon clones) and Pinot Gris on the 10.45-acre property.
Kathleen started out modestly with an estate and Russian River Valley blend Pinot Noir, a Rosé and a Pinot Gris. She has since added a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a Brut Rosé, and a Pinot Noir from Thorn Ridge Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. She plans to produce a Blanc de Noir style sparkling wine soon.
When I visited, I tasted two OGV (because of a challenge from Australia’s famous wine label, Grange, the Inmans display OGV instead of Olivet Grange Vineyard on their label) Pinot Noirs. Kathleen used 20% whole cluster in her 2009 vintage OGV Pinot Noir, liked the results, and has pushed whole stem inclusion to 50% in the unreleased 2010 OGV and 2011 OGV (still in barrel) Pinot Noirs. I much preferred the 2010 and 2011 wines over the 2009 vintage wine because the wines displayed more interesting savory and spice notes, more nuance, and more appealing textural qualities.
The winery’s tasting room is housed in a tasteful barn set among the property’s vines and is open Thursday through Sunday. As noted, a special private tour and tasting is available with Kathleen by appointment. Visit the website at www.inmanfamilywines.com. Wines are sold primarily through the winery’s wine club and tasting room. A restored farmhouse on the property is available for rent and is ideally located for touring the Russian River Valley.
Why buy these wines? Spend some time with Kathleen and you will be caught up in her ambition and focus. Her wines are beautifully crafted with a feminine, charming touch. She is innovative, current and energetic. You can’t help but feel her fire in her wines.
2009 Inman Family “Endless Crush” Nature Sparkling Late Disgorged Brut Rosé
138 cases, $68. The Inman’s 25th wedding anniversary in 2009 was Kathleen’s impetus to create her first sparkling wine. This Méthode Champenoise version is from the OGV Estate. The wine is a Brut Nature with no sugar added in the final dosage. Clear coral pink color in the glass. Very dry with appealing aromas and flavors of strawberries and cherries with hints of brioche, roasted huts and yeasty lees. This beauty can hold its own with any fine French Rosé Champagne and is beautifully packaged for celebrations. Exceptional.
2010 Inman Family “Endless Crush” Russian River Valley Rosé
$30. Almost sold out (a new release will be offered in April, 2013, with a new label). Soft red color in the glass. Delightful aromas of fresh-picked strawberries and melon. Bright and crisp, with light flavors of red berries and a subtle herbal note. Very good.
2011 Inman Family Russian River Valley Chardonnay
12.6% alc., $35. 100% malolactic fermentation. Light straw color in the glass. Tropical, apple and melon fruits accentuate the underlying citrus core of this crisp wine which finishes with a subtle nutty, lemon peel note. A bit austere for my taste, but well crafted. Good.
2009 Inman Family Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., $35. Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Fresh aromas of cherries, strawberries and rhubarb. Nicely spiced mid weight cherry core with a lively cut of acidity and very soft, supple tannins. Not terribly complex, but a very solid, highly drinkable wine that is a very good value. Good (+).
2009 Inman Family OGV Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., $63. Native, relatively cool fermentation, 20% whole cluster (first vintage with whole clusters in the fermenters). Aged 19 months with lees stirring in French oak barrels. Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Well-endowed with aromatic and flavor interest displaying scents of ripe cherry, raspberry and allspice. Soft on the palate with an elegant array of cherry and cranberry fruits accentuated with subtle herbal and spice notes. Some dusty tannins add textural interest and support. Very good.
2009 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $63. Farmed by Ted Klopp and his daughter Lauren Klopp William. Pommard, Swan and 777. Native fermentation, 100% destemmed, aged 19 months in 25% new French oak barrels, crossflow filtered and bottled. Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic with intense dark red berry fruits and spice. Veers to the darker red and black fruit spectrum on the palate in a full-bodied style with underlying notes of savory herbs, tar and black tea. Good.
2010 Inman Family OGV Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., unreleased. 50% whole cluster. A striking wine displaying power without weight. Refreshingly fruity with flavors of red cherry and berry, but with an equally appealing savory side of herbs and brown spice. Quite approachable with ripe, fine-grain tannins. Finishes bold and long. Whole cluster brings this wine to a whole other level. Exceptional.
2011 Inman Family OGV Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Barrel sample. 50% whole cluster. Brief sample was very appealing with bright fruity aromatics, concentrated flavors and dusty tannins. Terrific potential.
To see this review on the Prince of Pinot website, Click Here.