I can remember clearly when I first ran into Mark Weiner two years ago at Pinot Days in San Francisco.
He was at the CrushPad booth, handed me his card, and said he was starting to craft small amounts of
Pinot Noir from the Amber Ridge Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. He had no wine to taste but he
appeared extremely wide-eyed and eager. Mark developed his passion for Pinot Noir as a harvest
volunteer at Testarossa Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He evolved, as many do, into a home
winemaker and then a commercial vintner. He founded Twin Oaks Cellars in 2005 with his inaugural
vintage from Amber Ridge Vineyards and has since produced Pinot Noirs from the Santa Lucia Highlands
and Santa Rita Hills as well. I have talked with him over the past year at several Pinot Noir events
and never tire of his smile and enthusiasm. I reviewed his inaugural 2005 Amber Ridge Vineyard Pinot
Noir in a previous PinotFile and re-tasted it again a few months ago at the Pinot Shootout in San Francisco.
The wine has evolved beautifully and is just now hitting its stride. Mark graciously asked me to
taste his two 2006 Pinot Noir offerings and I came away very impressed. He describes his goal to “craft a more Burgundian-style wine vs. a “syrah-style” Pinot, and manage the acids to enable the wine
to be approachable earlier, yet retain its food-friendliness.
2006 Twin Oaks Cellars Amber Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 14.2% alc., $42. Lighter ruby in color. I
like the nose for its confected bright cherry aromas. The flavor profile is layered and complex featuring
Bing cherry, herbs, vanilla, and subtle spices including cardamom.. Light and soft, very clean and invigorating.
Not a “hulkster” wine by any means, rather more demure. Very easy to cozy up to and it shows off
Pinot’s best side. It will continue to drink well for several years.
2006 Twin Oaks Cellars Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 14.2% alc.,
$49. Mark has had experience with this vineyard while working at Testarossa. The goal here was to
highlight the smoky, earthy qualities of this vineyard using yeasts, barrels and fermentation methods
to draw those characteristics out. The aromas were quite funky initially like a barnyard covered with rotting
leaves. With air time, attractive dark red fruits emerged highlighted by herbs, forest floor and
smoke. The core of red fruits were quite silky and the wine, although quite understated at first, picked up
power in the glass. The velvety texture was a turn-on and the finish was very clean. This will definitely be
more giving with additional time in the bottle.
Twin Oaks Cellars wines are sold through a mailing list and on the website. Consult the website at
www.twinoakcellars.com. The website lists several winemakers who have been inspirations to Mark.