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Grapes: Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir (Clone 115)
Profile: Raspberry, cherry, rhubarb on the nose. Soft round start with tangy acidity carrying through a long finish. Aged in 100% neutral French oak.
Pairing: Best enjoyed with food (especially if consumed early) - turkey, duck, chicken, lamb, or hearty vegetarian fare.
11 cases produced.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and this incredible Pinot Noir proves that to be true. Born from grapes ripened a bit beyond our ideal parameters we ushered this wine into existence with extra care at every step. The result is a Pinot Noir we can proudly call our best ever.
This fortuitous outcome is a testament to the quality of the highly sought-after Pinot Noir grapes grown in the tightly guarded vineyards of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Our own access to Saveria Vineyard was procured by our favorite connection-making cardiologist, Dr. Dwain Coggins (aka DDC).
DDC, his wife Rebecca (DRC) and their dog Rafike joined us for the pick. As we were buying only two tons of grapes we had to bide our time. Once in, we slack filled half-ton picking bins to avoid crushing the ripe grapes, keeping the three clones present separate.
At the winery, we hand sorted the fruit and did our best to allow the must to develop unaided. Alas, our initial samples forecast a high ABV and pH that would have rendered the wine flabby. The precious grapes were simply too ripe to let go on their own. Intervention was necessary.
Working with DDC, we poured ourselves into the process using our collective experience to make the finite adjustments required to allow the unique characteristics of this rare fruit to shine.
We were very fortunate to get this highly sought-after Pinot noir from the Saveria Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. My friend and client, Dr. Dwain Coggins (DDC), once again enabled acquisition of these precious grapes. DDC had been making wine from these grapes with his friend Greg Tucker in Saratoga prior to making wine with me on Treasure Island. The microclimates of the high valleys surrounding the town of Corralitos, CA (marine layered mornings burning off to moderate day-time temperatures, and cool nights) are ideal for growing first class pinot noir. The prized vineyards of this area are meticulously managed, and tightly guarded. As we were only contracted for two tons of grapes (a small amount for a commercial production), we did not have ready access to the vineyard. By the time we were able to sample the grapes, they had already ripened beyond our ideal parameters. Nevertheless, the fruit from this site is so good that it made - in my very biased opinion - the finest Pinot noir wine I have made to date.
This pick went much smoother than our first collaborative adventure with the Siletto Chardonnay. On 10/8/2019 DDC, DRC, their dog (Rafike = Swahili for friend), Greg Tucker, and I were at the vineyard for a pre-dawn pick.
We slacked filled ½ ton picking bins to avoid crushing grapes when adding ~33 pounds of dry ice and sealing lids for transport on our neighbor’s, Paul Troutman’s, trailer towed by DDC’s pick-up. Clones were kept separate.
The morning drive to the winery was glorious😊
At the winery we hand sorted the fruit and destemmed into ½ ton fermenters layered with ~66 pounds of dry ice per ½ ton to keep the must cool and anoxic. Loose oxidized juice at the bottom of the picking bins was excluded from the destemmed must, and fermented separately in kegs to potentially be used in a rose’. A significant amount of raisins and a bit of mildew and rot affected clusters were removed. We were a bit disappointed in the condition, quantity, and chemistry of the grapes. We would have liked to have picked a week or more earlier, and we were shorted 1/3 of a ton. We added 50 ppm of SO2 to the destemmed must to inhibit the ubiquitous vinegar bacteria from spoiling our juice before we were able to make adjustments and inoculate with Dr. Linda Bisson’s magical yeast.
After cold soaking and turning over the fermenters twice a day for two days we were able to pull representative samples for analysis. With Brix at 24-25, we would have had alcohol concentrations in the 15%+ range. Furthermore, the TA would have dropped to 3-4 g/L post malo-lactic conversion, and the consequent high pH would have rendered the wine flabby and highly susceptible to microbial spoilage. The precious grapes were simply too ripe to let go on their own. Intervention was necessary.
After conducting thorough acid trials, DDC and I agreed upon modest addition rates of 1-2 g / L of tartaric acid and ~3% water adds that would bring the acidity into balance and drop potential alcohol to 14%.
We then allowed the fermenters to come up to temperature under constant CO2 blanketing. Six days after harvesting, and three days post acid and water adjustment, the must was ready for inoculation with the Renaissance “Brio” yeast at a temperature of 57F. On 10/20/19 we decided to gravity drain the fermenters and pneumatically press, letting the wine finish primary fermentation off of the skins and seeds to avoid excessive tannin extraction.
Barrels and kegs were sampled and topped (barrels) and Argon gassed (kegs) weekly. When Brix measurements stabilized at -2.0 for a couple weeks we inoculated with malolactic bacteria from Christian Hansen (CH-11), a strain that can tolerate low temperatures, and does not produce an excess of diacetyl (butter).
We were picking up a bit of rough tannins, so we decided to stir lees on a weekly basis as we monitored for malo-lactic conversion and completion, and topped. Malolactic conversion was complete by 02/18/20. Post malolactic conversion our pH was 3.48 to 3.53; safe! We found the wine to be balanced, and not in need of any further adjustments other than some lees stirring to temper the tannins.
After 16 months in barrel on a three 3 week topping regimen the wine was ready for blending and bottling.
Dwain and I were so in love with the purity and honesty of the neutral French (it’s not from Geneva) oak barrel, 13-FF-01 (2013 Francois Freres tight grain, medium+ toast with toasted heads) containing the Dijon 115 clone free run wine, that we decided to pull it from the blend altogether and bottle it unfiltered, if the microbial load allowed. After a clean bill of health via the ETS Laboratories Scorpions DNA analysis, we went ahead and gravity racked barrel 13-FF-01 to Tripodious Rex, a boutique winery hyper-utilitarian three legged 400L variable capacity conical bottomed stainless steel tank, and hand bottled the nectar; unfiltered😊
I am a very proud step father / wet nurse to this wine. The sterile filtered vineyard blend should have a long beautiful life to be appreciated decades from now. But, if enjoyed in its youth with good food, I would not hold it against you, if you pop the cork sooner. If you do not enjoy the unfiltered version within the next 5 years, I fear it will lose its freshness and innocence. How it is kept from my hands to yours will determine how the wine develops into adulthood. I eased this wine into the world. Please, handle with loving care. Pair with turkey, duck, chicken, lamb, or hearty vegetarian fare. It will definitely be on my Thanksgiving table; the essential holiday of Makasi – Wines of Gratitude
Download Saveria Pinot Noir Technical Specifications >