When we decided to expand our Pinot Noir production in the early 1990s there were many well-respected Pinot Noir clones available as well as several different rootstocks that had performed well in other California viticultural climates. How these clones and rootstocks would perform in Philo was still a mystery. We decided we would divide each field we planted into blocks with each one containing a unique combination of clone and rootstock. The fruit from each block would be fermented and aged as a separate lot in hopes of learning which clones or rootstocks perform best in Philo. Clones and rootstocks contribute subtle but important differences which help determine whether a wine is simply very good or hopefully exceptional. We continue to plant and replant—we now have 42 distinct Pinot Noir blocks—and continue to ferment and age each separately. This bottling is a blend of wine produced from grapes grown in 14 different blocks within eight fields: South Hill (28%), Marking Corral (24%), Pennyroyal (16%), Middle Ridge (11%) and four other fields (21%).
Sarah, Carlos and Alfredo punching down Pinot Noir using Navarro's modification of pigeage, a centuries-old tradition in Burgundy to produce red wines from Pinot Noir.
Thirty Pinot Noir lots lined up for a staff tasting. Since we ferment and age each Pinot Noir block as a separate lot, we need to assess the aroma/flavor profile and relative quality of each, before we can make bottling decisions.
The flavor core of Philo Pinot Noir is bright cherry while the Pennyroyal portion from warmer Boonville adds a raspberry-like character. The must was traditionally fermented—via manual punchdowns rather than pumping the must—keeping the tannins gentle. After pressing, the wine aged for 11 months in French oak barrels—25% new—adding structure and suggestions of toast and spices. Until May 31, this 93-point Pinot is available for only $19.50 a bottle by the full case! Don't miss out. Gold Medal winner. 93 points.