The fourth of five consecutive drought years in California, 2015 continued the pattern of ever-increasing levels of stress on the vines and the ecosystem of which they are a part. This was the year we started noticing the spread of fungal trunk diseases throughout our vineyards. Only with further spread in the following years, we came to realize the scale and severity of this phenomenon. The resulting wine, however, is a testament to the quality of our terroir, which keeps producing delicious, well balanced wines under increasingly challenging vintage conditions.
At the time of release (January 2020), the wine is showing considerable concentration and structure, dark color, medium-full body, excellent density, acidity, and texture, and deep layered fruit (mainly black, but also red and blue). It has good complexity and grip, all expressive with wild-earthy, mineral, savory/spicy hints. Simply put, we’re very happy with it!
Aging notes: As a general rule, our Pinots tend to take their time in the cellar, slowly making their way towards their ultimate fully-expanded older phase. Sometimes (2007, 2008) they show well throughout the whole process; some vintages (2010, 2013) seem all smily and cheerful early on, then proceed to tighten up again after a few years, while others (2001, 03, 12) are just grumpy and unyielding for the first few (many) years of their lives. They all eventually come to their own at some point at 8-12 years of age. For real full maturity, you would have to be a bit more patient, as they mostly take 15-20 year to get there. This 2015 appears to belongs in the first group; once you have tasted it, you may have hard time forgetting it in your cellar for further aging.
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 (as needed) in the newer blocks, while the older block is dry farmed.
2015 Vintage specifics: The season started with a very dry, warm spring and continued with record high temperatures in the early summer. Harvest started on August 14th – 2 days earlier than in 2014 (and 14 days earlier than 2013) – and continued in consecutive passes through the vines until September 6th, with sugars at 22.6 Brix in average – exactly the same as in 2014. 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 8 to 25 year old barrels. Aged on the primary lees for 17 months, bottled on February 25, 2017. Bottled by gravity unfined/unfiltered, with one sulfur addition of 30ppm. Production: 1224 bottles (102 cases). Alcohol: 13.4%.