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Pinot Noir, L'Argile, 2012
In 2005, we launched this wine with a limited production. We chose the name “L’Argile”, French for “the clay,” to pay tribute to our heritage and the clay-dominated soils that characterize the Carneros region.
The 2012 growing season was ideal in every way. Gentle winter rains left just enough ground water for the vines to establish a moderate canopy that allowed just the right amount of sunlight to reach each cluster. Moderate daytime temperatures and cool nights resulted in slow maturation, allowing the fruit to develop superb complexity while retaining bright acidity.
The proximity of the bay moderates the vineyard microclimates with morning and evening fog along with afternoon breezes. Our Pinot Noir parcels intended for still wines are on alluvial clay and Haire clay loam soils. These devigorating shallow soils are perfect for intense still wines because they grow compact clusters with very small berries. The small berries have a very high skin to juice ratio, which results in lots of color and flavor along with fine tannins.
The grapes were sorted and added to open-top fermenters, with a small percentage of lots maintained as whole cluster. While the wine was actively fermenting, it was treated to daily punch downs and the occasional délestage. After the wine finished fermentation, it was transferred to French-oak barrels, 40 percent new, where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged for 18 months. Just three lots (out of 14 total) were selected for this wine. The best barrels from those lots were then picked for this blend.
This wine has the unmistakable aroma of pure Pinot Noir: cherry and Santa Rosa plum mingle with hints of rose petal, hibiscus and star anise. The palate displays powerful cherry and dried strawberry flavors with vanilla undertones that continue through the rich mid-palate to the finish. Fine grain tannins provide a supple structure that will help the wine age gracefully.
We can’t deny that this wine is made for meat, succulent, rich meat that is grilled barbecued or roasted. It is delicious with leg of lamb, tri-tip or pork shoulder. It is equally delicious with risotto with mushrooms or a Spanish tortilla topped with Romesco.