After two back to back are-you-sure-we’re-not-in-Burgundy type vintages in 2010/11, 2012 brings us back to our own reality… but not necessarily in a bad way. While certainly warmer and less rainy than the two preceding vintages, we were still spared the dreadful concerns brought about by the severe drought we have experienced since. Our 2012 may be viewed as a modern day “normal” vintage, in our new era of out of kilter climate patterns. This vintage also completes our gradual transition to 100% foot-stomping. The wine ended up staying in barrels for 24 months – a good few months longer than any pervious Pinot vintage of ours – until it finally consented, reluctantly, to being bottled on August 25, 2014. Considering its balance, structure, concentration, and disposition, we recommend aging it a good deal longer, if possible.
This “Home Vineyard” brings back memories of past vintages: it combines the 2002 proportions and elegance, the 2009 density and texture, and some of the 2003 phenolic structure – in a somewhat more restraint version. Fairly dark in color, expressive and complex aromatically, medium bodied, densely textured, with good fruit concentration and ripeness (mainly black, but also red and blue fruits), solid structure, good balancing acidity and grip. The expression at this early stage (early 2015) is fairly robust, spicy, and wild, with earthy, mineral, savory/spicy notes more in the background. Its overall balance, density, concentration, phenolic presence/quality, and length lead me to believe that its tale will be told over long decades.
About the terroir: Our 2-1/2 acre “Home Vineyard” is north-east facing, at 1530-1600 ft altitude. The top soil is alluvial clay-loam on volcanic ash, fractured granite, and quartz sub layers. Untypically to this area, which tends to be steep and extremely rocky, this site is gently sloped and with few rocks to be found. It is also unusually cool in the context of the Sierra Foothills AVA, providing the required climatic conditions for successful Pinot production. The vineyard was planted (own-rooted, 3×6′ spacing) in 1979/80 and 1999, using as many clones – known and unknown – as we could lay our hands on, plus a handful of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay vines just for fun. Irrigation is used sparingly in the newer blocks, while the older block is dry farmed.
Vintage specifics: Spring and summer were warm, but not especially hot, with a few heat spikes in June, July, and August. Bud-break began on April 19, bloom on May 31, and verasion in early August. Harvest started on August 29th, and continued in sequential passes through the vines until September 24th, with sugars at ~22.8 Brix in average. The grapes were whole-cluster stomped in open-top fermenters, where un-inoculated, sulfite-free fermentations took place on 100% of the stems. Pressed after 7-14 day macerations into 5 to 10 year old barrels. Aged on the primary lees until the bottling day (8/25/14). Bottled by gravity unfined/unfiltered.