We craft our Carneros Pinot Noir from multiple, small-berried clones of the variety grown in several outstanding vineyards in the famed Carneros District at the southern tip of Napa Valley. Morning fog and cooling afternoon breezes from nearby San Pablo Bay ensure a long growing season and the slow, even ripening of our Carneros grapes, which in 2007 were harvested between August 27th and September 4th.
In 2007, a dry, mild winter and spring led to early budbreak and bloom. The summer months were temperate, with few heat spikes, which allowed our Carneros Pinot Noir grapes to develop concentrated flavors while retaining bright acidity. Warm weather in early September accelerated ripening and led to an early, fast-paced harvest of beautifully matured fruit.
To make world-class Pinot Noir, we night-harvest our grapes by hand and treat the fruit as gently as possible, intervening minimally during fermentation and barrel aging. Typically, we ferment all the juice in small, open-top, stainless steel tanks, but in 2007 we experimented with fermenting a small fraction (12%) in open-top barrels. This type of fermentation expands the flavor spectrum, produces richer hues, creates a more supple texture and promotes complexity. We further enhanced complexity by relying in the fermentation on 22% native yeasts that arrived on the fruit from the vineyards. In true Burgundian fashion we gently punched down the cap in tank to thoroughly macerate the juice and skins. Once fermentation completed, the wines continued macerating on the skins for several weeks to fully extract color and flavor. We then transferred them to French oak barrels, 42% new, where they aged until blending the following spring. The blended wine then spent another seven months in barrel, for a total barrel-aging time of 15 months. The 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir was bottled in December, 2008.
Consistent with past vintages, our 2007 Carneros Pinot Noir seduces with fragrant red and black cherry aromas complemented by secondary scents of raspberry, dark plum, light brown spices, sweet vanilla, freshly baked brioche and toasty oak. On the beautifully balanced, medium-bodied palate, the wine delivers bright, succulent, cherry and raspberry flavors supported by fine, silky tannins and a black tea spiciness that enlivens the long, zesty finish. While this lovely Pinot Noir drinks beautifully now, it will handsomely reward another 3-5 years of bottle age.