In 2001, Cakebread Cellars planted a Pinot Noir vineyard just north of the small town of Boonville at the southern end of Anderson Valley, a small jewel of a winegrowing region that follows the Navarro River on its path to the spectacular Mendocino coastline. In addition to an ideal climate of cool, foggy mornings, warm late afternoons and chilly evenings, the site boasts six distinctive French clones of Pinot Noir that together provide a rich tapestry of varietal flavors, making our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir a marvel of opulence and complexity.
In 2009, plentiful spring rains in Northern California fully replenished the water table, which deferred the need for early irrigation and kept berry sizes small. Consistently cool summer temperatures resulted in the slow, steady and parallel development of grape sugars and flavors, resulting in peak fruit maturity at lower sugar levels and beautifully balanced wines. We harvested our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir grapes between September 16th and 19th with a perfect balance of rich fruit flavors and crisp balancing acidity.
aspect of our winemaking regimen for Pinot Noir is night-harvesting, because grape flavors are fresher and more concentrated during the cold early morning hours – when the vines are at rest – than during the day. Fermenting each of our six Anderson Valley Pinot Noir clones separately is also key, as it optimizes the distinctive personality of each clone and maximizes complexity. Prior to fermentation, each lot receives a three-day cold soak to gently extract color and tannin while accentuating Pinot Noir’s fruit-forward personality. In traditional Burgundian fashion, the juice ferments in open-top tanks with gentle, manual punch-downs of the cap. Once fermentation completes, the wines macerate on the skins for several more weeks, with daily assays of color and tannin development. After gently draining the wines from the skins, we transfer them to French oak barrels (31% new) selected to accentuate our estate fruit’s flavor and textural attributes. After aging the wines in barrel until the following spring, we blend the lots and barrel-age the blend another seven months before bottling.
Compared to Cakebread Cellars’ Carneros Pinot Noir, our Anderson Valley bottling offers a darker, lusher, earthier fruit character. The 2009 vintage displays lavish, high-toned blueberry, boysenberry, dark plum and blackberry aromas with rich, dense, black fruit flavors that are simultaneously fresh and opulent. Beautifully balanced with supple, perfectly integrated tannins and a long, savory finish, this immensely flavorful Pinot Noir is thoroughly delicious now, yet it will handsomely reward another 3-5 years’ aging.