2016 Poseidon Vineyard "Petraea"
On initial impact the wine exhibits a mild spice character and darker fruit aromas. With time, strong cinnamon and nutmeg aromas emerge. These strong aromas balance with notes of ripe, dark plum and dried cranberry fruit. The palate is soft yet full on first impact, then the wine blossoms to a rich, full-bodied rendition of Pinot Noir. The Petraea barrel really affects the flavor of the wine, adding layers of piquant spice and complexity that you just don’t get with a regular barrel.
Petraea, literally “of rocky places,” is the most prized species of oak (Quercus Petraea) for wine barrels. The forests are found only at high elevation, in poor, rocky soils, and the resulting barrels are celebrated for their incredible density and tightness of grain. This wine started as a cellar experiment, matching this specific oak profile to a special few rows of Pinot Noir from our seaside Poseidon Vineyard. The result became a darling of the cellar—elevated in aromatics, finesse and elegance—and earned its own small bottling.
The 2016 growing conditions were ideal in many ways. California received much needed rains in the winter with an El Niño season. The parched earth finally received moisture needed to replenish lakes, rivers and ponds which ultimately ripen healthy crops. Better set conditions at flowering resulted in increased yield compared to the 2015 vintage, which was alarmingly low for many vineyards in Northern California. Cooler conditions throughout the summer slowed down the pace of growth, increasing hang-time, allowing the vines to focus on flavor development. The moderate autumn weather allowed for a measured pace in the cellar throughout the long harvest, making for easier logistics and a happy cellar crew.
Fruit harvested from our Primo’s Hill block was fermented in a small tank, and the free-run wine was bled off into four of our very special Petraea barrels. These barrels are made from oak trees that grew for decades in the rockiest of soils on the steepest hillsides of the Tokaji forest. The logs used for Petraea have the lowest porosity in our stockyard. Wine aged in these dense oak barrels expresses a higher spice character than normal. This spice character is layered, adding to the overall complexity of the wine. The barrels' stave wood was aged for more than 24 months in the elements, gaining complexity of flavors through the hot summer months and frozen depths of winter. Through this aging process, the bitterness and tannin were extracted and transformed into the ethereal notes of culinary spices; all great additions to the ripe Pinot Noir flavors of the 2016 vintage. The wine was aged in Petraea barrels for 16 months and was racked only once, high off the lees, and bottled unfiltered.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker