Our Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from several outstanding vineyards in the northern portion of the famed Carneros District in southern Napa Valley. The loam and hillside alluvial soils of these cool-climate sites yield small crops of Pinot Noir fruit with highly concentrated flavors. Morning fog and cooling afternoon breezes from nearby San Pablo Bay ensure a long growing season and bright grape acidity, which results in rich, beautifully balanced wines.
In spring, 2008, Napa Valley experienced its worst spring frosts in 35 years, sharply reducing yields for Pinot Noir and many other varieties. The ensuing growing season was characterized by below-normal temperatures, although warmer weather arrived in July and August and, coupled with the season’s light crop, perfect levels of ripening were achieved. Late-summer daytime temperatures in the mid-80s, tempered by the Carneros region’s persistent morning fog and cooling afternoon breezes, ensured excellent flavor development in our Pinot Noir grapes, which were harvested at full maturity between August 29th and September 9th.
To protect our vineyard workers from summer’s heat, we harvest our Pinot Noir grapes at night, which also safeguards the variety’s ethereal aromas and silky, complex fruit flavors. After cold-soaking the fruit for 2-3 days to maximize color extraction, we ferment most of the juice – using special Burgundian yeast strains – in small, open-top tanks with daily punchdowns of the cap to fully extract color, flavor and tannin. In 2008, we fermented 14% of the fruit, including whole berries, in open-top barrels, which intensified color and flavor, fostered supple tannins and enhanced complexity. Once fermentation completed, the wines continued macerating on their skins for several weeks to fully extract color and flavor. They were then transferred to medium-plus-toast Burgundian barrels, 40% new, where they aged eight months prior to blending. The blended wine aged another seven months in barrel before bottling in December, 2009.
Reflecting the low yields and concentrated character of the vintage, our 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir displays a darker, more saturated color and richer, deeper flavors than past vintages. The nose is redolent of fresh dark plum, black cherry and black raspberry fruit, with enticing sandalwood, rose petal and tea-leaf spice scents adding complexity. Smooth, round and full-bodied on the palate, with rich, layered, dark cherry and ripe berry flavors, the wine picks up an intriguing rose hips tea spice tone on the long finish, where its supple, seamlessly integrated tannins and bright acidity provide excellent structure and length. Delicious now, the deep, rich fruit and fine composition of this lovely Pinot Noir ensure it will age well for another 3-5 years.