The roller-coaster 2003 growing season in northern California began with an unusually warm March followed by depressingly cold, rainy weather in April, which set back vine development and reduced yields on early ripening varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fortunately, summer weather was picture-perfect, with an ideal balance of cool mornings and warm afternoons, no rainfall, and a few brief heat spikes in September to accelerate ripening. These conditions enabled our Pinot Noir grapes to achieve full physiological maturity while retaining excellent level of natural acidity.
The grapes for this Pinot Noir, our first from outside Napa Valley, came from a vineyard near Philo in the coolest section of Anderson Valley, a celebrated cool-climate district that follows the Navarro River as it drains into the Pacific Ocean at Albion on the Mendocino Coast. The low nighttime temperatures that prevail in this area are ideal for Pinot Noir, as they keep the fruit bright and crisp. In 2003, our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir grapes were harvested September 26th and 27th with excellent flavor development and ideal acidity, enabling us to produce this beautifully structured, varietally expressive Pinot.
Gentle handling of the fruit, moderate fermentation temperatures, and minimal manipulation of the wine during barrel aging are the hallmarks of our approach to Pinot Noir. Prior to fermentation, a three-day cold soak at 500 F. leaches color and tannin from the grape skins, a gentle extraction promoting stable pigmentation and tannin in the wine and a distinctly fruit- forward character. After the cold soak, the temperature of the must (unfermented juice and skins) rises naturally, and it's inoculated with a cultured yeast. In 2003, three-quarters of the juice fermented with 10% whole clusters, which added complexity and spicy aromatics, while half fermented in open-top tanks with gentle punch-down of the cap, a traditional Burgundian technique. After fermentation completed, the wine macerated on the skins for several weeks, with daily monitoring to assess color and softening of the tannins. They were then drained from the tanks, inoculated for malolactic fermentation and put into French oak barrels while aging undisturbed for 13 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, before blending and bottling.
Our 2003 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir boasts a delightful aroma of ripe black cherries and wild blueberries, with an intriguing tea-like spice tone. On the palate, the spicy-cherry flavors are bright and lively with excellent acidity, supple tannins and a lingering, cherry fruit-filled finish. Tasty now, this fine, cool-climate Pinot Noir will benefit from another five years in the bottle.
Total Acidity: 0.65g/100ml