2013 Poseidon Vineyard “Primo's Hill’’ Pinot Noir
The 2013 “Primo's Hill” Pinot Noir carries a deep burgundy color that foreshadows the muscular character of the wine. Plummy and ripe, the aromas are laced with savory fennel and oolong tea. Slight charry notes add to the complexity of the wine. The flavors are dark and brooding, but there is an underlying shelf of ripe black cherries reduced in a pan with baking spices. Despite the extended time in 100% new barrels, this offering will benefit from extra time in the cellar or aggressive decanting.
At our Poseidon Vineyard, originally planted in 1973, the maritime influence of the Carneros grape-growing season delivers cool, foggy mornings followed by warm days; ripening is nurtured slowly. At the center of our vineyard rises the seven-acre Primo’s Hill. Carneros soils began as the bed under San Pablo Bay; the silt of marine plants and animals, decomposing over time—and integrating with the nest particles of eroded rock—became clay. This darker and heavier soil comprises most of the vineyard land in Carneros, but as the Bay retreated and the drainage of Napa and Sonoma Valley cut through the clay, deposits of pebbles accumulated on the embankments. It is one such gravelly patch that is exposed on Primo’s Hill, allowing for better drainage and reduced soil compaction and resulting in deeper root penetration. The two-acre flanks of Primo’s Hill consistently produce our finest and most distinct Pinot Noir, which we capture in this reserve bottling.
2013 was a “surprisingly mild” vintage. We enjoyed moderate conditions throughout the growing season, with few heat spikes and no rain. Even so, the fruit on the higher ground was ready to pick the first week of September, just after Labor Day. We allowed the lower part of the vineyard an extra week of hang time to reach the peak of ripeness. The warm and dry conditions of the summer set us up for a stress-free harvest as we picked under the cool fog of Carneros.
The band of soil that transitions between the upper and lower parts of Primo’s Hill is a gentle, pebble-and-gravel slope. It is here that the fruit for this special wine is farmed. Flavors develop fast on this “skirt,” and the fruit is concentrated with the classic essences of Pinot Noir. Lower yields and the higher skin-to-seed ratio provide the tannin backbone of the wine. The grapes are destemmed then fermented hot in small tanks for a quick extraction. While the juice is still warm and active, it is placed into new Kádár Medium Toast Plus barrels. These barrels are kept in the warmest part of the cellar to continue the fermentation process. This early transition to barrel is what distinguishes the flavor profile of this wine from its peers. The smoky, charry notes of the fresh oak barrels steep into the young wine and add to the savory, reductive aromas of this Pinot Noir. After 20 months in barrel, the wine is racked off lees and bottled without fining or filtration.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker
Michael Blaise Terrien, Founding Winemaker
92 Points | Robert Parker | October 2015
The outstanding 2013 Pinot Noir Primo’s Hill, which comes across like a premier cru from the Côtes de Nuits, displays forest floor, Asian plum sauce, a darker ruby color, some black and red currant and blacker cherry notes, and a deeper earthiness. This medium to full-bodied, delicious Pinot Noir should drink well for another 4-5 years.