Wine Reviews: Alma Fria

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-21-2020

I first tasted Alma Fria’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in 2016, and I knew I had stumbled onto something special.

These West Sonoma Coast wines sport lower alcohol, but plenty of delicious fruit. I love their Chards for this sea spray, salinity that makes me salivate, and their Pinots for the elegant floral, spice and earth tones.

Founder Jan Holtermann comes from a background of wine importing with his family’s business in Costa Rica. But, in 2011, he and his wife Silvia moved their family to Healdsburg, California, to start Alma Fria. They purchased their own vineyard in 2012, the Holtermann Vineyard in Annapolis.

They found a winemaker in Carroll Kemp (also of Red Car), whose children went to the same Kindergarten class in Healdsburg. With vineyard manager Greg Adams (who has worked with other local producers like Lynmar, Patz & Hall) the team was underway. (Click here for a 2016 Terroirist interview with Jan Holtermann.)

 I recently received a batch of some Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the 2016 and 2017 vintages. Across the board, these wines are fantastic, especially if you’re looking for more sleek, crisp styles. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

2016 Alma Fría Chardonnay Plural USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $40
Gorgeous aromatics of honey, white and yellow flowers, olive oil and spiced tea on top of lemon curd and nectarine. So bright and fresh on the palate, slight creaminess, but this is a brisk, chalk-dusty kind of Chardonnay with lots of minerality. Raw almond, honey, sea spray and white tea mix well with lemon and kiwi fruit. A wine to crush with friends and oysters, but this is also very complex and deep. Insanely good for the money. 13.4% alcohol, aged 12 months in old French oak. (93 points)

2017 Alma Fría Chardonnay Plural USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $40
Bright and salty on the nose, really pretty, slightly natty, but pure and fresh throughout, with lemon and green apple fruit. Crisp and bright on the palate, with lemon, green and yellow apple fruit, but there’s this streak of saline and olive brine that is fantastic, almost a nod to Jura, but there’s still plenty of that classic Sonoma Coast goodness. Floral, mineral, talc tones round out the finish. Delicious and fascinating stuff. Aged 12 months in old French oak, 13.3% alcohol. (94 points IJB)

2016 Alma Fría Chardonnay Campbell Ranch Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $50
Rich but nuanced notes of honey, almond, ginger, coffee cake, cinnamon, over top lemon curd, orange marmalade, yellow pears. Brisk and bright acidity throughout, with a 13.3% alcohol, this is vibrant but shows deep texture. Elements of lemon crème, juicy orange and yellow pear, with notes of nougat, crème, whipped honey, coffee cake, yet there’s also these elements of oyster shell and saline. So balanced and integrated, this is a gorgeous Chardonnay. Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2017 Alma Fría Chardonnay Campbell Ranch Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $50
Deep, inviting aromas of apricot, lemon curd, orange peel, with complex honey, almond, ginger, also a bright, salty appeal. On the palate, this is medium-bodied with racy acidity from start to finish, but plenty of depth and fruit (yellow apples, pears, apricot, lemon crème) The complex saline, crushed stone notes complement the white tea, honey and peanut shell elements really well. This will be even more beautiful in five years or so. 13.1% alcohol, aged 12 months in 25% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2016 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Plural USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $40
Spicy aromatic display of green herbs, clove, savory broth tones, with raspberries and red currants, so floral and fresh. On the palate, this is well-built with structured but round-edged tannins, crisp acidity, an open and inviting feel with juicy cherries and pomegranate fruit. Elements of savory broth, pepper, sage, rose petals, it adds delightful complexity. Open for business but worth of cellaring for a few years, too. Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak. This is an absurdly elegant and delicious Pinot for the price. (92 points IJB)

2017 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Doc’s Ranch USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $70
Gorgeous aromas of cherries, raspberries, red apples, with rhubarb, white pepper, pretty rose petals. Brisk and bright on a medium-bodied frame (13.2% alcohol) with round tannins and zippy red fruit (cherries, red currants, spiced cranberry relish). Elegant but plenty of depth and complexity, with elements of roses, clove, earth, light roast coffee. Lovely now but give this three-to-five years and enjoy it! Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

2016 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $65
Aromas of red cherries, strawberries, airy and bright, with spicy tones of herbal tea, beef bouillon cubes, rose tea. On the palate, this is light and bright but structured well, with dusty, medium tannins. Raspberry, strawberry, red cherry fruit, airy and elegant, with notes of menthol, clove, potpourri. This is really expressive already, but I’d give it at least two years to gain some complexity. Aged 12 months in 25% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

2017 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Holtermann Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $70
Nose bursts with wild raspberry, strawberry, gushing red cherries, super vibrant and fresh, with complex notes of bay leaf, green herbs, white pepper, rhubarb, light roasted coffee. Velvety tannins and crisp acidity frame the wine really well, it has this smooth, fresh, focused feel. Cherries, strawberries, raspberry fruit laced with complex yet subtle notes of rose petals, clove, mint, some spicy paprika and tobacco. Complex, elegant, crushable yet age-worthy, this has pretty much everything going for it. Aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. (94 points IJB)

2016 Alma Fría Pinot Noir Doña Margarita Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $65
Deep ruby color. Bright aromatics of raspberries, juicy cherries, red apples and plums, with rose petals, clay, earth, oregano and white pepper – really complex aromas that shift and evolve with time. Silky-smooth on the palate with dusty tannins, bright acidity, the balance is lovely. Juicy raspberries, red cherries and red apple peels mix well with earth, black tea, dried rose petals, clay and cola. Vibrant, complex, with dusty, earthy, mineral tones on the finish. Great now but I’d love to see this in four or five years. Aged 12 months in 15% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

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