Santa Maria Valley
I’d like to think our work could progress in a straight line, but there always is a bit of trial and error in crafting wine. You tack in one direction to achieve something only to find that you’ve gone too far, so you take a new sighting and cast off in a slightly different direction, hoping to achieve your goals. Perfection is never attained, but you strive to get closer to your aim.
In the old days of California wine, we grew big unruly bush vines that produced fruit that ripened unevenly. To deal with the uneven ripeness, we picked the grapes after the least ripe ones were ready. As viticulture progressed, we began growing the vines in vertical trellises that allowed all of the fruit to get the same amount of sun exposure, which evened up the ripening. Later, further refinements like shoot-thinning, lateral removal, and green thinning contributed to more even maturation. These techniques have allowed us to pick physiologically ripe grapes at lower sugar levels, and the Bien Nacido pinot is an example of what we can achieve. At lower sugar levels, we find these wines have more floral and spicy nuances. They are simply more aromatic. That powerful sweet/smooth textural sensation of wine at high alcohol levels is gone, and some will miss it. For me, however, these new wines of ours are fresher and livelier, making them a joy to drink and a pleasure to have with a fine meal. This is our 16th Bien Nacido pinot noir from our little section on the east side of Q Block, and I think it is our finest.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Alcohol: 14.0% | Vinification: 30% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 14 Months | Total Production: 236 cases
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
“Deep red with a bright rim. Suave and spicy on the nose, offering spicy red berries, cherry, Asian spices and smoky minerals. Silky and sweet, with impressively concentrated raspberry and candied floral flavors, no rough edges, and a late note of orange peel. Finishes focused and sweet, with a repeating floral quality. “The key to keeping tannins fine is punching down early, because if you do it late, then you’ll get hardness,” commented Tolmach.” – JR 92 Points