2010 Pinot Noir
December 3, 2011
The 2010 HD Pinot Noir is medium to pale ruby in color, and may show a little sediment or cloudiness as it was bottled unfined and unfiltered to preserve character. The nose offers an intriguing blend of black cherry, baked apple, sassafras, potpourri, red berry, and grilled peach aromas. The palate is still tight at this early stage, but shows cherry, berry and spice flavors accompanied by a hint of toasty oak. The finish is piercing and persistent, carried through by generous acidity that will soften with cellar age. This is another fairly rich Pinot for us, although it may be a little bit more restrained than the 2009.
This pinot has improved tremendously over a few short months in bottle, but should continue to improve for another year or two, and hold at that level for several more. If you are going to drink it in the near term, we recommend an hour of decanting prior to serving.
Our two vineyard lots were fermented separately in 1-ton fermenters, with long cold-soaks before primary fermentation, and a mix of punchdowns and pumpovers during ferment to achieve the desired level of extraction. This year I decided to experiment with native fermentation, allowing whatever yeast was present in the vineyard or the winery have its way with the juice. I was very impressed with the results, as the result seemed to me to be more complex and layered than when using commercial yeast. Both lots were barreled down at dryness and underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel. After experimenting with several different options, in the end my favorite wine was a 50/50 blend of both lots, so the lots were blended in August, and put back to barrel for another 3 months of ageing. The finished wine was then bottled in December of 2011, unfined and unfiltered, for a total production of 112 cases.
For the 2010 vintage we once again sourced fruit from the Sangiacomo Family’s Robert’s Road vineyard in the Petaluma gap, where our block of Swan clone pinot produces tiny, intensely flavored berries, and the block of Dijon 777 adds weight and richness.
This year we also added a second vineyard to the mix, the Ferguson vineyard in Carneros near the San Pablo Bay. This was an exciting addition for several reasons; planted in 1974 to the Martini clone, this is some of the oldest vine Pinot I have had the chance to work with on any project, and it is fascinating to see the extra layer of depth that this brings to the final blend. I have also worked with fruit from this vineyard for the Donum Estate, and have tasted many vintages of their Stemmler Ferguson Vineyard Pinot, which as always been a favorite of mine.