2015 Poseidon Vineyard "Primo's Hill" Pinot Noir
While quite savory in its aroma of herbes de Provence and lavender, this wine is also quite fruity, evoking spiced black cherries and ripe blood oranges. The wine is soft on entry, and the herbal character continues through in flavor. Earthy minerality dances with ripe raspberry flavors and the skins of dark plums. There's even a hint of iron. The finish is long, soft and spicy, with nutmeg and oak char notes.
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.
2015 was the earliest vintage on record across the state. Four consecutive years of drought led to significant stress on the vines. Luckily, our mature vineyards with deep roots not only survived—but thrived—through the heat of a late summer. Earlier on in spring, however, we had a cool period during bloom which hampered set in many areas. Our Pinot Noir was mainly affected, with cluster counts reduced and tint berry size, with some clusters growing only a couple of inches long. All this was great for quality but brutal on the yields and pocketbook. Our Chardonnay held strong with only slight reductions in crop. Quality was still high in our wines, despite the heat and we made excellent, ripe renditions of our estate wines.
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 the lees and bottled without fining or filtration.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker