Pinot Noir

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  • 2015: the La Tâche. This one is for you lovers of the refined, feminine style of Pinot Noir. La Tâche grown at this cool-climate site in the Petaluma Gap is light garnet in color, with brilliant clarity. Hand punch downs, a long fermentation, and ageing in neutral oak help to achieve a delicacy and balance. The nose is subtle with potpourri: dried rose petals, violets, cinnamon bark--and sweet red berry and pepper notes underneath. Strawberry and rhubarb flavors intermingle with a touch of mocha, and a fresh, lifted finish leaves you wanting more. Here’s a perfect wine to sip before dinner: it’s like a quiet storm in your glass. Cellar for 5+ years, or allow to breathe at least 20 minutes.
  • 75 Cases Produced Of the several hundred clones of Pinot Noir in existence, the Pommard clone was among the first to be brought over legally from France. In the 1940’s, Dr. Harold Olmo, known as the “Plant Explorer” for his dedication to discovery, imported cuttings from Château de Pommard, the largest holding in the commune of Pommard. One of these became the basis for UCD4 and its heat-treated cousins UCD5 and 6. (A heat-treated vine is one grown in a superheated environment so it grows faster than a virus can replicate.) These latter two vines were distributed by FPMS (Foundation Plant Material Service, now called FPS) in the early 60’s, and were widely planted throughout Oregon and California in the 60’s and 70’s. Pommard is respected for good color, intense fruit, considerable spice, and perhaps most notably, luxurious mouthfeel. We source the Pommard clone from Old Road #3 Vineyard, planted by Andrew Flocchini in 2002. This cool site at the southern edge of Sonoma Coast—the Petaluma Gap region—has sandy-loam soil, and tends to produce wines that are light and elegant. We harvested the grapes in early September, fermented with about 1/3 whole clusters, gave them a 3-day cold soak with twice-daily hand punchdowns, then racked the wine to neutral French barrels. No fining and minimal filtering was employed. We bottled just over 3 barrels in early January of 2016. The nose of the 2014 Carpenter Pommard is full and rich, with intense aromas of cinnamon stick, dried mushrooms, and black plums. Juicy and spicy, with a velvety texture, the wine fills the palate, hitting all the notes: bitter, salty, sweet, acidic, and umami-esque. The fruit is more blue-black than red—wild blueberries, damson plums—and the finish is slightly bitter with notes of dark chocolate. Drink now or hold for 5-7 years.
  • 75 Cases Produced “There are few more civilized pleasures in life than good company, good food and good wine.” — Joe Swan Swan is a Heritage clone, named for Joseph Swan, a pioneer of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County during the late 1960’s and 70’s. Swan’s vineyard near Forestville on Laguna Road, originally planted to Zinfandel, was budded over to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the advice of his friend and mentor André Tchelistcheff. It performed well from the get-go. Neighbors in the Russian River Valley were fast to “borrow” clippings and plant “Swan” in their own vineyards. In 1974, Francis Mahoney and Curtis Alley gathered budwood from Swan and performed trials at Carneros Creek with other American-bred clonal selections. In 1996, Mahoney gave the five best cuttings, called Heritage clones, to FPMS and the one from Swan was named UCD97 (aka FPS97). The provenance is less clear, however. Swan never kept any written records, but Mahoney did, and he traced the cuttings from an experimental vineyard in Oakville in 1959 to Martin Ray, who allegedly brought them down from Mount Eden from the “old” Paul Masson vineyards, whereby they initially came over from Romanée Conti. No one will ever know for sure, but it makes a good story, and one cannot argue that the Swan clone is a solid choice for cool-climate appellations. It is known to produce bright and rich Pinot Noir, lighter in color than many other clones, with intense aromatics and an elegant, earthy character. The Swan clone from Old Road #3 Vineyard was picked in early September, and the lot was partially whole-cluster fermented (roughly 25%) and cold-soaked with hand punch-downs for 48 hours. It was sent to age in neutral French oak and bottled in January 2016. Tasted in February 2018: Anise, cola, red cherry. Clean and pretty. Lots of fruit, but not jammy. Forward and intese aromas. Bright acidity. A little potpourri, early strawberries. Zingy.
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    We’re thoughtfully sipping, tasting notes coming soon.
  • We’re thoughtfully sipping, tasting notes coming soon.
  • We harvested the 2018 at night and by hand on August 26th. It was separated by clone and field section into half-ton bins. There were 19 bins total; from these, two to four of each clone are selected to be fermented independently and the rest are co-fermented. After years of trial with various yeast strains and vessels we now ferment everything with native yeast, punching down twice a day. The Old Road #3 vineyard is about five miles from the head of San Pablo Bay - a cool site with lots of marine influence. The soil is old sea bed and river bottom, loam and salt and calcium. Proximity to the sea and cold weather gives the wine edge and dimension. Pinot, perhaps more than any other varietal, needs these things. It needs to be taut and ethereal, not languid, not ponderous. Don't look for strawberries in this wine. Look for salt and white flowers and sour black cherry. The smell of bull kelp and dripping trees, crushed berry bushes, orange peel.