Sta. Rita Hilla
Among many terrific and far out words in wine vocabulary is one that comes from the French, sauvage, and it often comes to mind when tasting our Fe Ciega Pinot Noir. Translating closely to savage, sauvage refers to a wine that expresses a landscape that is wild, untamed and animally—damp leaf litter, dark mushrooms on mossy trees, that iron-rich smell of drying blood—all that comes to mind when contemplating a vast shaded forest. And in our lineup of Pinot Noir it has always been Fe Ciega that best expresses this earthy spirit, in a brawny impactful kind of way.
Over the years this site taught us that in a vineyard with this much soul, it’s not always necessary to extract every last bit of it. So we approached this wine with gentler hands for a time, and found ourselves missing some of the visceral feel we knew from before. It took only an incremental adjustment—a cooperative vintage and a few extra days on skins in the fermenting tanks—and all the shape and verve we could ask for presented itself in fine balance.
2016 was a welcome return to cool, onshore breezes and foggy episodes throughout the growing season. We were able to go deeper than the umami-laden red fruits offered in the past few drought vintages, plunging into the spectrum of dark, concentrated and woodsy fruit that we knew from the more mild vintages of the mid-2000s. A third of the clonal planting at Fe Ciega is the Pommard clone (with a couple Dijon selections), and some of that savagery expressed in that genetic hometown presents itself thanks to this cool, slower to mature vintage.
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir | Alc: 13.5% | Vinification: Traditional open top fermentation with 15% whole clusters| Barrel Aging: 15 Months in French oak barrels, 20% new | Total Production 301 Cases
“I was blown away by the 2016 Pinot Noir Fe Ciega, a dead ringer for a Grand Cru Red Burgundy. Black cherries, black raspberries, sous bois, earth, and loads of spice notes all flow to a medium-bodied, richly textured, concentrated effort that does everything right. I like it today, but it will be even better with another year or so in bottle and keep for 10-15 years.” Jeb Dunnuck – 96 Points