Still interested in trying our 2020 Pinot Noir? For an extremely limited time (now until John runs it through the still) you can order wine made from our almost-certainly-smoke-infused 2020 harvest. This may turn out to be a wonderful vintage, full of character from the native yeast, preserved by our careful winemaking process. It may also turn out to be an ashtray / charcoal / fire and brimstone bomb.
During press last week I tasted the initial product and surprisingly couldn't taste the smoke. This is a good sign, but it doesn't mean the wine will be free from artifacts. One winemaker I spoke with about his smoke-tainted vintage from a few years back remarked that he couldn't taste any smoke until six months in, when it unexpectedly popped up in force.
Credit @maiab who pointed out that a wine that tastes like hell is the perfect embodiment of 2020.
This wine is only for the most adventurous among you. Buy at your own risk :).
Harvest / Experiment Notes
Our 2020 harvest this year was overwhelmingly impacted by the barrage of wildfires we’re still experiencing. Ash covered the grapes, the smoke made the outdoors uninhabitable, and several of our crimson mornings felt more Martian than Martinelli. The end result was several tons of harvested grapes that simply would not work for a proper vintage, so this year we’re making more rosé and brandy than usual.
However, on the path to brandy you inevitably have to make wine first, and we’ve made around 250 gallons of what may turn out to be very decent Pinot Noir to run through the still. The wine is technically correct: the grapes had a superb growing season and were harvested at the right time, and we’re still using all of our normal winemaking techniques. There are a few differences, though. Unlike most years where we work with a specific strain of Assmanhausen yeast, this year we’ve allowed the vineyard’s native yeast to do the work of fermentation. When we’ve done this in the past we’ve ended up with a wine that’s softer and more earthy. Also, the wine won’t be aged in oak barrels. It will be racked in a barrel to filter and clarify, but only briefly. And lastly, it will definitely have flavor components from the wildfires.
Some folks have called it “fire wine”, others say they’re looking forward to trying a smoky Pinot. We have no idea how strong the smokiness will end up being, and we can’t say for sure if you’ll like it. It’s a fun experiment. It might not be drinkable, but it will be honest.
What we can say is that with native wild yeast, incendiary wildfire flavors and the grapes only moving about 400 feet from vine to bottle, this is probably the most direct expression of the 2020 wildfire terrior you’ll find.
Along with the bottles we’ll also be doing periodic lab tests to see how the flavor components change over time, and we’ll make those available as well. This will be an extremely limited run, as everything that doesn’t get sold and saved in the next two weeks is going into the still.
Harvested: September 11, 2020
Total Production: Up to 30 cases
Brix at Harvest: 24.6