Our Carneros Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from several outstanding vineyards in the northern precincts 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 vibrant grape acidity, resulting in a rich, beautifully balanced Pinot Noir.
2010 was the latest in a string of cool growing seasons in California’s North Coast. The year began with substantial rainfall, which pushed back bud break, flowering and grape set by several weeks. After an unusually cool summer, heat spikes in late August kick-started full ripening. Cooler temperatures returned in early September, allowing our Pinot Noir grapes to hang on the vine an extra few weeks developing ripe, concentrated flavors.
Night harvesting our Carneros Pinot Noir grapes ensures we fully capture the variety’s fresh acidity, ethereal aromas and silky, complex fruit flavors. In 2010, we fermented 87% of the juice in small (4-ton) stainless steel tanks, while 13% was fermented in open-top barrels. Barrel fermentation of Pinot Noir results in a wine with great color and texture, a seamless integration of fruit and oak, lush flavors and soft tannins – a perfect complement to the bright, fruity character we get from traditional tank fermentation. Using a special Burgundian yeast strain to initiate fermentation, along with daily punchdowns of the cap of skins at the top of the fermenting tanks, further optimizes color, flavor and tannin. Once fermentation completes, the wines macerate on their skins for another few weeks, again in the interest of maximizing color and flavor extraction. In 2010, we used medium-plus-toast Burgundian barrels, 35% new, in which our Pinot Noir lots aged eight months prior to blending. The blended wine aged another seven months in barrel before bottling in December, 2011.
This is one of the richest Carneros Pinot Noirs we’ve made to date. Its lovely, complex nose reveals forward scents of cherry cobbler, red raspberry, plum compote, sandalwood, spearmint, Asian spices and dried herbs. Ripe, juicy and supple on the palate, with fine, ripe tannins, its rich and full-bodied black cherry, raspberry and dark plum flavors pick up a zesty tea-leaf spice tone in the long, full finish. Hard to resist now, this delicious wine will continue developing in bottle for another 3-5 years.