Wine Enthusiast 92
Fresh boysenberry and cranberry aromas are wrapped in a rusty iron note on the nose of this bottling. Theres a tarry tone to the sip, which is firm in tension and offers flavors of black plum, lavender and cracked pepper. Editors' Choice-WE
Wilfred Wong 90
COMMENTARY: The 2018 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir exhibits excellent layers on the palate. TASTING NOTES: This wine shows up with aromas and flavors of black fruit with a twist of black licorice. Pair it with duck confit. (Tasted: June 22, 2021, San Francisco, CA)-WW
Crafted using grapes from a handful of the finest vineyards on the Central Coast, this alluring wine offers lovely aromatics, soft, velvety tannins, and vibrant fruit. On the palate, layers of Bing cherry, wild strawberry, and sassafras are underscored by hints of white pepper and baking spices that add nuance and complexity to a long, lush finish.-Winemaker Notes
In 1975, legendary vintner and American wine pioneer Josh Jensen founded Calera (Spanish for lime kiln) high in the remote Gavilan Mountains of Californias windswept Central Coast. There, in Mt. Harlans low-yielding, limestone-rich soils and cool, arid climate, he began planting what would ultimately become six small estate vineyards. Today, these vineyards are recognized as some of the New Worlds most revered Pinot Noir sites.
Calera is a vision, and Caleras wines truly express the sense of place. Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in American Pinot Noir. Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy, which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France. Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the Gavilan Mountains of California's Central Coast.
Under the stewardship of Winemaker Mike Waller, each vineyard is renowned for producing singular wines of uncommon purity, elegance and aging potential. In addition to its beloved single-vineyard wines, Calera partners with some of the top vineyards on Californias majestic Central Coast to make Caleras beautiful Central Coast wines, including a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.-Winery Notes
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"Calera is one of the great and historic wineries in California. They are a producer that epitomizes what Polaner Selections is all about – traditionally made wines (lots of stems and acidity) that have an amazing amount of soul, clarity and balance. And even more incredible: Who else besides Calera is making certified organic, super-traditional wines in an old world style, from 30+ year old estate vines grown in limestone, and has a clone and AVA named for them here in America? No one!
Calera was officially founded in 1975, when owner/winemaker Josh Jensen planted his first 24 acres of pinot noir in three separate parcels in Mt. Harlan. Having studied in Burgundy, Josh was determined to follow in his mentors' foot steps. He spent two years searching for limestone throughout California before finally purchasing a high-elevation parcel with a limestone subsoil in early 1974. (Limestone had even been commercially quarried here a 100 years earlier. To this day, there stands a magnificently well-preserved, 30-foot tall masonry limekiln, or "calera" in Spanish. It thus serves as the winery's symbol and appears on every bottle of wine.)
Located 90 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, Calera is near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County. Its elevation is 2,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest and coolest vineyard properties in California. All the vineyards are based on selected cuttings from Burgundy ("Calera Selection"), with new vineyards started from massale selections taken from older plots.
In the Burgundian tradition, Josh named each parcel individually to emphasize the fact that each would produce a distinct wine. The original plantings are the Selleck Vineyard (5 acres), Reed Vineyard (5 acres), and Jensen Vineyard (14 acres). These vineyards produced their initial tiny crop in 1978.
Josh made Calera's first wine in 1975: 1000 cases of zinfandel produced from purchased grapes. During his first two years as a winemaker, he made the Calera wines in a rented space in a larger nearby winery. He gradually purchased more vineyard land, as well as property upon which he built his winery. Over the span of 25 years he transformed a multi-level rock crushing facility into a gravity-flow winery where the wines are moved by the mere force of gravity, rather than by the use of pumps. This multi-layered hillside construction has allowed for the gentlest possible handling of the Calera wines.
In 1990 the U.S. government approved the Mt. Harlan AVA (American Viticultural Area), which is high in the Gavilan Mountains (the lowest point is at 1,800 feet above sea level). While it is a large AVA which comprises 7,400 acres, Calera's are the only vineyards in the Mt. Harlan Viticultural Area.
Calera's winemaking is steeped in non-interventionist practices, such as the use of native yeasts, hand-harvesting, whole cluster fermentations, minimal racking, and fining and/or filtration only when necessary, insuring the bottled wines express all of the natural greatness of their vineyard origins."