Gambal-Work, Sta. Rita Hills (Central Coast, California) Pinot Noir Francesca Vineyard 2018

($65):  The Gambal is Alex Gambal, an American who moved to Burgundy in 1993, worked for a wine broker in Beaune, attended enology school there, and eventually established his eponymous winery in 1997.  Over the ensuing 20+ years, he made an array of excellent Burgundies and established himself as a top small producer.  He recently sold his Burgundy winery, but clearly has maintained his love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with his new endeavor, Gambal-Work.  Work is Peter Work, a Dane who moved to Santa Ynez Valley about 20 years ago, purchased land, planted a vineyard in what would become the center of the Sta. Rita AVA and became an advocate for organic and biodynamic farming.  The Francesca Vineyard is a cool location because it is wind-swept and located at the Western end of the Sta. Rita AVA, close to the Pacific Ocean.  This Pinot Noir reflects the site splendidly.  Weighing in at a modest 13.3 percent stated-alcohol, the flavors dance on the palate, giving the Burgundian sensibility of flavor without weight.  Captivating woodsy notes lead to a Janus-like combination of savory and raspberry-like flavors, reflecting the magical duality of great Pinot Noir-based wines.  An attractive leanness and great acidity reflect the cool site.  It’s a brilliant contrast to their Pinot Noir from the Bentrock vineyard and shows that terroir is alive and well in California, if you know how to find it and not smother it with overdone winemaking.
96 Michael Apstein Jan 18, 2022