MCM88 Pinot Noir 2017

Producer: Senses Wines
Region: Sonoma County
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Country: USA
Classification: AVA
Wine Type: Red
Variety: Pinot Noir
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 14.5%
Soil: Sandstone, sandy loam (known locally as Goldridge)
Farming Practices: Sustainable
Awards: 94+Robert Parker
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Cellar Profile

Founded in 2011, Senses quickly became one of the most exciting wine projects out of the Sonoma Coast. Occidental natives and childhood friends, Christopher Strieter, Max Thieriot and Myles Lawrence-Briggs partnered with world-class winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown to produce coastal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Beginning with only 100 cases in their inaugural vintage, Senses currently crafts a few thousand cases of single vineyard and appellation wines. Grapes come from many renowned and family-owned vineyards including the B.A Thieriot, Terra de Promissio, Dutton Palms and Charles Heintz sites. The wines are complex, intense in flavour and beautifully balanced. All wines ferment via indigenous yeasts and are neither fined nor filtered. In the past two years, their presence in the marketplace has expanded to include placements on the menus of many Michelin-rated restaurants throughout the United States, including The French Laundry and Le Bernardin.


Green Valley is a sub-AVA of the prestigious Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County. It is in the southwestern part of the Russian River Valley, squeezed in between the Coastal Ranges to the west and the urban spread of Sebastopol and Santa Rosa to the east. Green Valley is one of the coolest AVAs in northern California, heavily influenced by the cool, moist fog that comes in through the Petaluma Gap. It is is one of the last to have the fog burn off in the mornings and one of the first to see it develop again in the afternoon, limiting the amount of exposure the area’s vineyards have to bright sunlight every day. The long growing and ripening season here enables the grapes to retain acidity as they build aromatic complexity and varietal character and flavour. Soil also plays a key part in Green Valley’s terroir. The land was once under water, part of the eastern Pacific shoreline many millions of years ago. The ocean’s retreat has left an array of sandy soils, known locally as the Goldridge series which cover approximately two thirds of the Green Valley AVA.


Fruit was sourced from the famed vineyard formerly known as Keefer Ranch and now known as Perry Ranch, and the block originally farmed by Kosta Browne. Located in the heart of Green Valley, a sub-AVA of the Russian River Valley, Perry Ranch was first planted as an apple orchard. The majority of the ranch was later planted to vine with a mix of Pinot Noir clones offering a array of diversity within the 13 acre single vineyard. The Green Valley AVA receives morning fogs, originated from the Petaluma Gap, which makes for cooler mornings than any other region within the Russian River Valley MCM stands for Max, Chris and Myles and doubles for the roman numerals of 1900 which, when added to ‘88, marks their birth year of 1988.


Pinot Noir—chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France— is grown around the world, mostly in cooler climates. The grape’s tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot that require diligent canopy management. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wine ages, Pinot has the potential to develop more vegetal and earthy aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine. Thin skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lend Pinot to producing mostly lightly coloured, medium-bodied and low-tannin wines that can often go through phases of uneven and unpredictable aging.


Grapes, hand-picked and harvested at ideal ripeness, are cold-soaked for a few days and fermented with yeasts indigenous to the vineyard. French oak was used, 35% of it new, with the wine spending 10 months fleshing out in barrel.

Tasting Notes 

“The 2017 Pinot Noir MCM88 is medium ruby-purple in color with appealing aromas of baked blueberries, warm black cherries and boysenberry with nuances of bergamot, moss-covered bark and a hint of laurel. Medium-bodied and silky, there’s a good balance of earth and fruit in the mouth, and it’s framed by very finely grained tannins and juicy freshness, finishing earthy.”-Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate