Once a dairy farm and pastureland, this vineyard has realized its greatest potential as a prime, virgin Pinot Noir vineyard. It was first planted in 2000 to a mix of Dijon clones 116, 667 and 777, all grafted on low-vigor rootstock 101-14. I have been working with this vineyard since 2003 and have always been impressed by the quality of the Pinot Noir it produces. Dairyman sits in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley near the ocean, a region where cooling fog comes in through the Petaluma Gap in the morning and once again in the evening. Afternoon breezes help to soften the effects of the warm sun. In Dairyman, each vine has been trained up on a vertical shoot position (VSP) trellis, which both limits the growth and opens up the typically congested fruit zone. The combination of low-vigor rootstock and alluvial soil stress control of the vines, while the cool, coastal climate creates a long growing season that brings about small, concentrated and flavorful berries.
We harvested early in the morning so the fruit would arrive at the winery while the grapes were still cool to preserve the vineyard-fresh flavors. After de-stemming but not crushing the berries, we cold-soaked the fruit for up to two weeks to soften the skins and allow for ideal extraction. During fermentation in a combination of closed and open-top stainless steel fermenters, we used both punch-downs and pump-overs to extract color and tannins, and also to control temperatures and maximize flavors. We barreled only the free-run, discarding the press, then aged the wine in 100% French oak (60% new, 40% seasoned) for up to nine months. After racking the wine once malolactic fermentation was complete, we racked it a second time before making the final blend.
Bright crimson red in color. Aromas of black cherry and ripe plums combine with subtle notes of dried herbs and smoke. The palate entry shows flavors of cranberry, fresh raspberry, and ripe cherry, complemented by hints of vanilla and baking spice. A balance of savory, cedar and cocoa powder, and sweet, fig jam and ripe blackberry, round out the mouth-feel. The overall impression is one of ripe red and black berry fruit flavors, great structure, smooth tannins and a lingering fresh finish.
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