The grapes for this wine come from several outstanding vineyards in the Carneros district at the southern tip of Napa Valley, a cool growing region strongly influenced by breezes and fog from nearby San Pablo Bay. These choice sites, including our Foster Road estate vineyard, are planted to a number of French Dijon clones of Pinot Noir. Flourishing in the Carneros district’s long, cool growing season, these superb clones produce small crops of small-berried Pinot Noir grapes boasting distinctive, impressively concentrated flavors.
In 2005, a warm late winter spurred early bud break, yet a cool, wet spring set back vine development. Unseasonably cool temperatures continued throughout much of the summer, slowing ripening and extending the growing season. Fortunately, warm, sunny days in September and October brought the harvest to a successful conclusion. Our Carneros Pinot Noir grapes were harvested between September 7th and 24th with an excellent balance of ripe flavors, acids and tannins.
Producing world-class Pinot Noir requires handling the fruit gently, fermenting at moderate temperatures, and intervening minimally during barrel aging. In 2005, we cold-soaked our Carneros fruit for 72 hours prior to fermentation to extract maximum color from the skins. We then inoculated the must with several cultured yeast strains selected for their ability to ensure a slow, active fermentation and accentuate Pinot Noir’s fruity character. In traditional Burgundian fashion, we fermented our various lots separately in small, open-top tanks, gently punching down the cap to thoroughly macerate juice and skins. After fermentation completed, the wines continued macerating on the skins for several weeks to further extract color and flavor. Then they were transferred to French oak barrels, 42% new, for aging. After creating the final blend in December, 2005, we aged the wine another year in barrel before bottling it December, 2006.
Our 2005 Carneros Pinot Noir displays the full spectrum of enticing aromas that Pinot Noir enthusiasts treasure: fresh, ripe, black cherry and raspberry fruit with lovely rose petal, tea leaf, brown spice and sandalwood scents. On the supple, medium-bodied palate, the wine reprises its bright fruity aromatic character with succulent red fruit and spice-box flavors that culminate in a long, balanced finish. Delicious to drink now, this appealing, varietally eloquent Pinot Noir will develop additional complexity with 3-5 years’ additional bottle aging.