High End Red Wine Club – February Allocation
Kosta Browne Pinot Noirs (Conventional farming)
Sta. Rita Hills
Michael Browne and Dan Kosta are alumni of a noted Sonoma County restaurant, John Ash and Co. Michael followed a circuitous route to get there. He was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but grew up in Washington State. Upon returning to Santa Rosa in 1987, he enrolled in pre-requisite courses at Santa Rosa Junior College to become an architect. During schooling, he worked in wine retail and at a number of restaurants. It was at John Ash and Co that Michael developed a deep love for wine and food and the agricultural pursuit of winegrowing. His ultimate goal became to make a living as a winemaker.
Dan Kosta was a native of Sonoma who grew up around wine. Dan’s father owned a wine store in Santa Rosa and wine was a frequent topic of discussion at the household dinner table. After joining the staff at John Ash & Co, Dan worked his way up to Head Sommelier. He too, had a desire to be involved in a winery, and in 1997, he teamed with Michael to make the first Kosta Browne wine.
They put all of their tip money into a “co-op” cookie jar placed in the restaurant’s kitchen. After raising $2,600, they bought a half ton of Pinot Noir grapes, a single barrel, and a used, hand-cranked de-stemmer and crusher to produce their first vintage. That same year, Michael left John Ash & Co and became assistant winemaker at Deerfield Ranch Winery in the Sonoma Valley.
In 2001, they teamed with Chris Costello and family who provided a fiscally conservative and thoughtful business plan and success followed shortly thereafter. Michael likes to say he learned his winemaking at “ Hard Knocks University.” It didn’t take him long to achieve a measure of recognition.
The 2003 vintage was highly regarded by wine writer James Laube of the Wine Spectator. He awarded all of the 2003 Kosta Browne Pinot Noirs scores ranging from 90 to 96. The mailing list quickly filled up and Kosta Browne was on every pinotphile’s radar. Kosta Browne quickly became a member of the current band of prestigious Russian River Valley wine producers, many of whom had been crafting notable Pinot Noir since the 1980s. Kosta Browne bounced around, sharing space in several wineries for awhile.
They eventually found a spacious home in the old Vacu-Dry apple processing plant in Sebastopol. Here they have been able to further refine their craft and follow their commitment to producing better and better wines.
In 2009, the winery sold majority control to Vincraft, for, depending on the report, $36 to $40 million. Vincraft is an investment group headed by former Beringer executives Walt Klenz and Pete Scott along with Bill Price, the Chairman of Vincraft which also owns Gary Farrell.
Dan Kosta, Chris Costello and Michael Browne continue as minority partners (they own just shy of half) and remain at the winery in their current sales and marketing, management and winemaker roles.
The Sonoma Coast bottling is a blend of fruit from many vineyards (Pratt-Sexton, Marshall, Burnside, Watertrough, Kanzler, Gap’s Crown, Thorn Ridge, Freestone) and almost as many clones (667, Pommard 4, 115, 777, 828, Swan, 23, 114, 2A) that were fermented in open top fermenters (mostly stainless, some concrete and 5% wood).
The wine was then aged in 40% new French oak barrels for 17 months before release.
96 points, Jeb Dunnuck: The 2017 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast reveals a ruby/purple, translucent color as well as a stunning perfume of black raspberries, cassis, crushed violets, spice box, sweet earth. It’s rich, medium to full-bodied, has beautiful depth, a kiss of background oak, and a great finish. Mostly destemmed and aged 17 months in 40% new French oak, it’s a brilliant wine to drink over the coming decade or more.
The Sta. Rita Hills bottling is also a multi-vineyard affair (La Encantada, John Sebastiano, Bentrock, Radian, Francesca, Hilliard Bruce, Mt.Carmel), and several clones (828, 777, 2A, 115, 91, POM 4, 667). Also fermented in mostly stainless steel (71%), wood (14%), whole clusdter (14%) and concrete (10%) – all open tops.
The wine was aged in 42% New French Oak for 15 months before release.
94 points, Rob’t Parker’s Wine Advocate: The 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills has a medium ruby-purple color and gives up cinnamon toast, raspberry coulis, macerated strawberries and rosewater perfume with accents of musk, lilac, blood orange and scorched earth—what a gorgeous perfume! Medium-bodied, it slowly builds in amplitude in the mouth, releasing gobs of perfumed red berry fruits. It has a sturdy but finely grained frame and seamless freshness, finishing very long, layered and fantastically perfumed. Wow!