In 2001, we planted a Pinot Noir vineyard just north of the small, iconic town of Boonville at the southern end of Anderson Valley, a small jewel of a winegrowing region that follows the Navarro River on its path to the spectacular Mendocino coastline. In addition to an ideal climate of cool, foggy mornings, warm late afternoons and chilly evenings, the site boasts six distinctive French clones of Pinot Noir. Clone 667 provides fruit-forward flavors; 777 delivers perfumed aromas; 115 adds strong color; the Pommard and 375 clones supply elegant tannic structure; and the Swan clone contributes wonderful concentration. Together, they provide an amazing diversity of varietal flavors, making our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir a marvel of richness and complexity.
In spring, 2008, Northern California experienced a spate of severe spring frosts, dramatically reducing yields on virtually all wine grape varieties. Temperatures during the early part of the growing season were significantly below average, but warmer weather finally arrived in July, although temperatures cooled again in September. Southern Anderson Valley’s warm afternoon temperatures, coupled with its overcast, fog-chilled mornings and cold evenings (diurnal variations of 40 degrees are not uncommon), ripened our estate Pinot Noir grapes to perfection with an excellent balance of ripe fruit flavors and bright acidity. The fruit was harvested between September 27th and 30th in pristine condition.
We ferment each of our six Pinot Noir clones separately to optimize their distinctive personalities. Prior to fermentation, each lot receives a three-day cold soak to gently extract color and tannin while accentuating Pinot Noir’s fruit-forward personality. In true Burgundian fashion, the juice ferments in open-top tanks with gentle, manual punch-downs of the cap. Once fermentation completes, the wines macerate on the skins for several more weeks, with daily assessments of color and tannin development. In 2008, 3% of the fruit was fermented as whole clusters and 4% was barrel-fermented to enhance complexity. After gently draining the wines from the skins, we transferred them to Burgundian oak barrels, 32% new, selected to accentuate our estate fruit’s flavor and textural attributes. After aging the wines in barrel until the following spring, we blended the lots and barrel-aged the blend another seven months before bottling.
The nose of our 2008 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is dense with the scents of ripe summer fruits: boysenberry, black raspberry, black cherry, strawberry and dark plum, all abetted by intriguing hints of earth, leather, cocoa and oak toast. Lush and full-bodied on the palate, with layer upon layer of sumptuous, deeply concentrated dark fruit flavors, the wine is bolstered by beautifully integrated tannins and appealing spice and toasty oak tones that add a savory note to the long, firmly structured finish. Delicious now, this opulent Anderson Valley Pinot Noir will gain even more nuance and complexity with another 3-5 years’ bottle aging.