As a design geek, I cannot help but love the letter press labels, awesome.

Chances are you have never heard of Anthill Farms.  I know I had not prior to a tasting with this boutique California Pinot Noir (mostly – they do a couple Syrahs as well) purveyor at Union Square Wines.  I was skeptical going into the tasting as I am not typically down with California Pinot Noir as a general rule of thumb.  So it was with great chagrin that I actually found the single vineyard Pinot’s from Anthill to be some of the best out of California that I have ever tried.  A lot of this has to do with their approach to wine making.  By admission, Web Marquez (one of Anthill’s three owner/winemakers) said that the winery’s basic philosophy is “low impact wine making.”  In the vineyards, most of which they now lease, (which means that they do a lot of the farming) they are not certified biodynamic or organic but utilize bio/organic principles.  In the winery it is hands off wine making.  In other words (their words, in fact)  the fruit is brought in, cold soaked, then natural fermentation is allowed to happen (with regular punch downs), then into barrel (though I am not sure if any new barrels are used, I can confirm that there was absolutely no trace of oak flavors in any of the wines whatsoever!).  The wines are only topped up periodically and then bottled when deemed ready.  Nothing else.  No racking, fining, or filtration.  The three wine makers at Anthill just want to stay out of the way and let the vineyards express themselves.  If that is a formula, then it’s one I can subscribe to.  Amen.

So, a little history in an nutshell concerning Anthill.  The three winemaker/owners (Webster Marques, Anthony Filiberti, and David Low) met at the 2003 Williams Selyem harvest.  They bonded over the love of similar style of wine.  The three guys throw in a couple grand each and start Anthill Farms in 2004 producing about 200 cases of wine (Pinot Noir).  They grew the winery slowly, according to their philosophy and tastes, doing most of the work themselves, while holding down other day jobs.  They gain a loyal following and develop a mailing list for their hands off single vineyard Pinots.  The rest is history.

And now the bad news.  After being a skeptic, and then quickly becoming a convert, I wanted some of these wines from Anthill.  And judging by the frenzy which ensued over the limited number of bottles which were available for purchase at the event, a lot of other folks felt the same way.  In fact, I cannot recall seeing anything like this before at any tasting, event, or sale?  It was like they were giving away DRC for $50 a bottle or something (a little wine geek humor, sorry!).   But the sad truth is that the wines are really produced in such limited quantities that you have to buy from their mailing list which has about a one year waiting list at this time!

So what’s a poor, desperate chump to do.  Well, you can start by contacting Union Square Wines (aka USQ) immediately.  They are probably not listing these wines on the website or putting them in the store as there really is just not more than a few bottles to be had.  So either call USQ or get on the mailing list for Anthill, or both.  Jesse Salazar of USQ told us that he personally hordes a stash of these wines, and that even though he works for USQ, he has had to subscribe to the Anthill Mailing list.  This all sounded like hype to me, but really it was not at all.  There is not hype needed to sell these wines.  They are produced in such limited amounts, and are of such high quality, with such an amazing philosophy behind them, that the sell out before they could even ever be released to retail.

The final word is this:  The Pinot-hater (me!) loves these single vineyard Pinots from Anthill Farms.  I cannot even choose a favorite as they were all outstanding and different.  Find the wines on your own accord, they are amongst the greatest Pinot Noirs produced in the continental United States, and beyond.  Don’t believe me?  I heard Tom Smith of USQ gasp a couple times that he thought he was drinking Vosne Romanée.  Nuff said!

And as a design geek, I cannot help but love the clever use of fonts and keen cork advertising.

Anthill Farms 2009 Pinot Noir, Demuth Vineyards – Anderson Valley

After tasting a couple of Syrahs and an entry Pinot Noir, things got real serious real fast with this wine.  From 30 year old vines yielding only about one ton per acre.  This Anderson Valley Pinot is very pretty with mint and herb aromas mixing with lite cherry cola.  The finish is persistent and delicious.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Anthill Farms 2009 Pinot Noir, Comptche Ridge Vineyard – Mendocino County

The Comptche Ridge is certainly the most unique wine from Anthill Farms.  Namely because it sits in the midst of a Redwood forest in Mendocino, removed by 10 miles from the nearest vineyard site!  It is a very herbal expression of Pinot (hello Burgundy) with great acidity and lite smoked cherry fruit.  Very interesting.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Anthill Farms 2009 Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard

Now we jump up to the Sonoma Coast with the Tina Marie.  It is all black liquorish, herbs, and cherry compote.  A delicious Pinot that anyone would love.  This one wins heats and minds.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Anthill Farms 2009 Pinot Noir, Peters Vineyard – Sonoma Coast

If I could say that one wine had the most Pinot-like nose, it would be the Peter’s.  Again, slightly riper as we are on the Sonoma Coast, with notes of cassis, cherry cola, and fresh herbs.  We are also talking 30 year old vines here too, very nice indeed.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Anthill Farms 2007 Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard

It was great to be able to try a couple of the same vineyards with a bit of age on them.  The wines seem like they will age well, but both the 2007 and 2009 vintages from Anthill are all banging now.  The balance of berry cola and menthol is offset by the balance between acidity and silkiness.  Really nice stuff.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Anthill Farms 2007 Peters Vineyard – Sonoma Coast

Same for the 2007 Peters, it is aging nicely with great peppery red fruit mixing with menthol spice.  A toss up really between the 2007′s?   I choose “C” – all of the above!  Awesome.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

FURTHER READING

There is not a lot of info out there on Anthill, but there is a piece on California Wine Report that is another great testimony.