Rick Longoria, one of my favorite winemakers, has released his first pinot noir vintage from Block M at the esteemed Fe Ciega Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills. Block M is named for the clone Mt. Eden, which Longoria planted in 2008 from cuttings taken at another treasured site, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, across the Santa Ynez River from Fe Ciega.

Fe Ciega's Block M comprises 1.25 acres on a steep hill — one that Longoria said he originally thought "was too steep to farm." However, other vineyards nearby "were planted on as steep if not steeper slopes, so that gave me confidence that we could plant this block and not have any serious problems with tractor access, etc.," he noted.

Longoria grew fond of the Mt. Eden pinot noir clone when he sourced it from both Sanford & Benedict and the Mt. Carmel vineyards. "Those sites produced some of the best wines I made in the late 1980s through the mid-2000s."

Longoria calls his first Block M vintage, the 2011, quite reminiscent of the Mt. Carmel pinot noirs he once produced: "Rich forward fruit aromatics in the nose, and a juicy dense quality in the mid-palate, with a velvety finish."

He recommends a few more years of cellaring, as do the many critics who have praised the wine since its release.11-PN-FC-M-web.

Longoria produced just 58 cases of the 2011, but anticipates increased production as the vines continue to mature.

The 2011 Pinot Noir Block M Fe Ciega retails for $55. Information and tasting room hours, www.longoriawine.com

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