The Spanish term ‘Las Alturas’ means ‘the heights’, a fitting name for this vineyard located on one of the highest grape-growing benches in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA up to 1200 feet. At this elevation, the sunny but very cool climate creates a wine bearing all the hallmarks of this coastal region: robust, expressive, full bodied, and balanced by a firm acidity. Nestled between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the western side of Salinas Valley, Las Alturas benefits from early morning fog which rolls in most days from Monterey Bay then burns off within a few hours. Gusty winds funnel in from the bay throughout the afternoon, moderating the overall temperature and contributing to one of the longest growing seasons in California. The high winds also result in smaller berries with very thick skins, giving us more color concentration. Another attractive characteristic of this vineyard is the low-vigor, free-draining sub-soil made up of a calcareous base underneath a layer of sandy loam. This complements our farming techniques to further reduce our yields per vine and augment the fruit’s intensity.
THE 2018 GROWING SEASON:
Winter weather was warm, and abnormally dry in the Santa Lucia Highlands. However, in Spring the winter rains returned and brought the rainfall averages up to normal. The wet cool weather delayed bud break by up to two weeks. May brought warm weather that lasted through to the end of June. The grapevines grew rapidly during this time and the resulting canopy growth was both healthy and vigorous. Veraison started in late July and was completed by early August. The cool weather of the late summer extended into September, the crop ripened evenly and the fruit was characterized as having very good acidity, delightful flavor development, and intense color.
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 destemming (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 aged the wine in 100% French oak (60% new) for up to nine months. After the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, we racked it twice before making the final blend.
Deep purple garnet in color, this wine has overflowing aromas of sun-ripened cherries, sweet plums, hints of cola, and white pepper. The palate is complex and rich, packed with dark fruit flavors of blackberry and cherry. This wine is a full and intense expression of Pinot Noir, well balanced with toasted oak and vibrant acidity on the finish.
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