Carneros, Napa Valley
The roller-coaster 2003 growing season in Napa Valley 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 Carneros region Pinot Noir grapes to achieve full physiological maturity while retaining excellent level of natural acidity.
The grapes for this wine came from several outstanding vineyards in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, a renowned cool-climate region benefiting from breezes and fog from nearby San Pablo Bay. We prize these sites for the long, cool growing season they enjoy, their clonal diversity (multiple clones of a grape variety foster greater wine complexity), and the intensity of flavor we get from their fruit. In 2003, 40% of the grapes came from our Foster Road estate vineyard, which is planted to French Dijon clones that produce wines with impressively concentrated black fruit flavors. In 2003, harvest was from September 2nd to September 17th.
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. In 2003, our Carneros fruit was de-stemmed but not crushed, then cold soaked at 500 F. for 72 hours. This helps extract color and flavor from the grapes before alcoholic fermentation begins, leading to more stable color in the wine. We then inoculated the must with a cultured yeast, controlling temperatures to ensure a slow, active fermentation. Small open- and closed-top tanks were used to facilitate both the traditional Burgundian method of punching down the cap, and the more conventional pump-over technique. After fermentation, the wines macerated on the skins for several weeks, checked daily for color and softening of tannins. They were then drained from the tanks, inoculated for malolactic fermentation and put into French oak barrels, 52% new, where they aged undisturbed for 14 months before being removed for final blending and bottling.
Our 2003 Carneros Pinot Noir displays complex, beguiling aromas of smoky black cherry and fig fruit with intriguing floral and Asian spice tones. In the mouth, the flavors are juicy and mouth-filling, with a pleasing tea-like spiciness in the long, rich finish. Delicious now, this lovely Pinot Noir will develop further complexity with several years' additional bottle age.
Total Acidity: 0.57g/100ml