Pinot Noir is a grape that must be grown in the right place. The “right places” in Sonoma County are the Russian River Valley and the Carneros district. Both regions are ideal for Pinot Noir because of cool growing conditions. When making the blend for this Sonoma County Pinot Noir, we prefer the backbone of the wine to be predominately Carneros while we use fruit from the Russian River Valley to heighten the blend. The majority of the Pinot Noir for this 2009 offering came from the Carneros region – mostly from the Benoist Ranch and Durell Vineyard – while 25% is from the Russian River Valley.
Gentle fruit handling is key to great Pinot Noir production. Cap management and cold soaking are also key parts of the equation. Cold soaking before fermentation allows for the extraction of color and flavor from this relatively thin-skinned grape. Open-top fermenters allow gentle cap management by manually pushing the skins back down into the fermenting juice. This regime results in the best extraction of color, flavor and tannins from the skin. After fermentation is complete, the lots are tasted to determine the best for the blend. We keep every grower, every block and every clone separate throughout the aging process. After 9 months of barrel aging, each lot is assessed, the lots are selected, blended and the wine is bottled unfined.
Youthful and inviting, this Pinot Noir displays lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cranberry as well as hints of rose and leather. The palate offers juicy fruit flavors and soft tannins that give a creamy texture and a long fruit-driven finish.