Pinot noir aficionados never confuse Goldeneye, one of America’s best pinot noir wineries, with GoldenEye the James Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan.

Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond novels, named his Jamaican estate Goldeneye and wrote all the stories there. Twelve years after Fleming’s death, Bob Marley bought it, and, in turn, sold it to record producer Chris Blackwell. Today Goldeneye is a resort on Jamaica’s north coast.

Goldeneye winery was established by Dan Duckhorn in 1996, and named for a species of duck.

Duckhorn founded his eponymous Napa Valley winery in 1975; while he made delightful Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon wines, Duckhorn‘s fame arrived through merlot-based wines and the rightly-acclaimed Three Palms Vineyard merlot bottling.

Goldeneye winery is located in Anderson Valley, a small section of California’s Mendocino County. A nearly three hour drive north of San Francisco, Mendocino is everything Napa Valley is not: Rural, filled with redwood trees, and retaining the mind-set of the 1960s hippies and flower children that populated it and grew plants that did not bear grapes.

After researching numerous pinot noir growing regions, Duckhorn choose Anderson Valley for its climatic conditions of cool morning fog and afternoon breezes off the Pacific Ocean, allowing the grapes to ripen gradually under the midday hot sun. And older wineries such as Navarro, Handley Cellars, Huschand Roederer Estate– owned by the Champagne house Louis Roederer, proved that quality pinot noir could be made there.

Goldeneye winemaker Michael Fay.jpgWinemaker Michael Fay

Goldeneye Winery developed 180 acres of pinot noir planted with 24 clones. The diversity of soils and clonal selection gives Goldeneye six pinot noirs spread across five single-vineyards and its Anderson Valley appellation wine. It also buys grapes from various growers.

A few weeks ago, I poured a glass of the 2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Winemaker Michael Fay selected grapes from five vineyards that were hand-picked over six weeks (most wineries harvest in a few days).

His obsession to have only the most perfect grapes yielded a 2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir with black cherry color and a cascade of cherry, raspberry and cola aromas; a mouthful of red plum and black cherry flavors cross the palate with an dash of bitter chocolate in the finish from the French oak barrel aging. This medium body pinot noir capture’s the grape’s natural delicate texture; it is a refreshing change from the heavy pinot noirs of California’s warmer vineyards. 2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir retails for about $50.

goldeneye label.jpg2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir label

The 2012 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard is bigger and bolder; it’s composed of eight pinot noir clones grown in specific soil and vineyard blocks. Goldeneye’s orchestration brings a prelude of blackberry, raspberry and vanilla scents followed by a crescendo of black plum, cherry and black raisin flavors that will please those who love powerful wines. This high octane 2012 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard commands about $80.

Oh, and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond? I prefer my Goldeneye with Sean Connery or Roger Moore.