Over the past decade, Cakebread Cellars has expanded its interest in Pinot Noir. In 2001, we developed what is now a 46-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, which we today call Apple Barn. It’s planted to six distinguished clones of the variety and has produced outstanding Pinot Noirs since 2004. In 2011, we acquired the highly regarded Annahala Vineyard, just a half-mile west of Apple Barn. Annahala contains 60 acres and eight high-quality clones of Pinot Noir. As a result, we soon will be offering three Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, one from each of our Mendocino vineyards and a blend of fruit from the two.
In 2011, California experienced one of its coldest and wettest vintages in memory. Wet winter and spring weather extended into mid-June, delaying and disrupting budbreak, bloom and fruit set and setting the stage for a cool summer growing season that culminated in a prolonged and occasionally wet harvest. The key to producing quality Pinot Noir in such vintages is to open up the vine to more sunlight and warmth, thin grape clusters to ensure the remaining ones ripen fully, and carefully sort through the grapes to cull the healthiest berries. This results in reduced production, but allows vintners to craft quality wines from challenging growing seasons.
Night-harvesting our Anderson Valley Pinot Noir grapes ensures we bring fresh, varietally expressive fruit into the winery. We ferment each of our Pinot Noir clones separately to maximize their distinctiveness and enhance wine complexity. We handle the fruit gently and cold-soak it prior to fermentation to optimize color and tannin extraction and to accentuate Pinot Noir’s fruit-forward personality. We ferment the juice in small open-top tanks and gently punch down the cap of skins at the top of the tanks to fully extract color and flavor while limiting aeration. Once fermentation completes, the wines macerate on their skins for several more weeks, with daily monitoring of color and tannin development. After draining the wines from their skins, we transfer them to French oak barrels carefully matched to each lot’s flavor and texture profile. After aging the wines in barrel until the following spring, we blend the lots and barrel-age the blend another 6-7 months before bottling in late summer.
Our 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir displays earthy, fresh cherry and red raspberry aromas accented by notes of sandalwood and mineral. Medium-bodied and supple on the palate, with fine tannins, the wine delivers juicy black cherry, red currant and black raspberry flavors that persist throughout a long, lively finish featuring bright acidity and a refreshing minerality. Rich, yet elegantly styled, this delicious Pinot Noir will drink beautifully over the next 3-5 years.
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