[Tasting Notes] With the Bench Pinot Noir, we are able to craft a more robust and intense wine than our classic Estate offering. The 2012 is focused and elegantly styled, with the best classic flavors that our seaside vineyard has to offer. Aromas of strawberries, rhubarb and pomegranate juice waft from the glass. Hints of citrus and matchstick accentuate the classic bouquet. On the palate, fresh fruit flavors of cherries and strawberries abound, while a touch of vanilla finishes it off.
[History] The maritime environment of the Carneros grape-growing region delivers cool, foggy mornings followed by warm days that slowly nurture ripening. This seaside influence is particularly acute at our Poseidon Vineyard; one can see the masts of boats bobbing in the water just a few steps to the south. The prominent feature of our vineyard is the gravelly, geological “Bench”—the elevated, rocky, former riverbank of the Carneros Creek—that runs serpentine through the center of the site. From this unique geological feature spring some of our most distinct, small-production wines.
[Vintage] The growing season in 2012 was long and relatively cool. Harvest was one of the latest on record, beginning in late September and lasting through mid-October. Extended hang–time allowed for ripe flavors to develop without compromising natural acidity, keeping the youthful flavors of the wine fresh and intact. The elevated geography of “the Bench” on the vineyard allows for quicker draining soils which aids in achieving ripeness in cooler years like 2012.
[Winemaking] The three blocks of the hillside (top, skirt and bottom) were picked separately but on the same day. The vibrant character of the lower section of the hill was immediately evident in the berries, and we decided to whole-cluster ferment a portion of this lot in a small tank. That, along with a lower fermentation temperature, helped to accentuate the fruit's liveliness. We find fruit from “the Bench” to be a particularly good fit with our “Petraea” oak barrels (“Petraea” means “rocks”, indicating the terrain where this particular species of oak is typically found); the wine was racked only once before bottling. The result is a very pure expression of Pinot Noir in a restrained, classic manner.