Sta. Rita Hills is home to some of Santa Barbara’s best-known Pinot Noirs and occupies the western portion of Santa Ynez Valley between Buellton and Lompoc. The region’s east-to-west orientation, extreme proximity to the Pacific Ocean and ancient marine bed soils are perfect for world class Pinot Noir.
“Purity and beauty to this, offering cherries and bright strawberries with watermelon undertones. It’s medium-bodied with refined tannins and a fresh finish. Vivid. Drink or hold.” - James Suckling, August 2021
“Coming from Sta. Rita Hills, the 2018 Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard was aged for 12 months in French oak, 25% new. Medium ruby-puepl colored, it needs a little coaxing to reveal elegant notions of tilled soil, underbrush and wild mushrooms over a core of kirsch, wild strawberries and thyme. The medium-bodied palate delivers refreshing herb-laced red berry flavors with a light chewiness to the texture and a fragrant finish. 2,400 cases were made.” - Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
“The 2018 Pinot Noir Fiddlestix is rich, deep and so expressive. Dark red cherry, red plum, pipe tobacco, spice and lavender infuse the 2018 with striking depth. Low yields give the 2018 a bit more body and creaminess than I remember seeing in the past, along with more fruit depth and fewer of the wilder/gamier qualities that can be distracting. This is one of the best Fiddlestix Pinots I have tasted from Etude.” - Antonio Galloni, March 2021
This Pinot Noir is bright and cheery with aromas and flavors of lifted red berry fruits, red plums and Bing cherry, alongside notes of ripe nectarine and golden peach. Layers of sweet baking spice notes come through from the well-integrated oak, with nuances of cinnamon and clove, all framed by a lithe texture with vibrant acidity, great balance and a lengthy mouthwatering finish. This Pinot has substance and complexity, making it very appealing to drink now, and also promises much more to come.
A near perfect season was very much welcomed after several tense vintages. What may be considered a ‘classic’ vintage, the wines from 2018 show tremendous intensity and complexity. Santa Barbara County provided a mild to warm summer, with a cooler autumn, allowing the grapes to remain on the vine until they reached ideal maturity. While the quality of the grapes was phenomenal, our overall yields were down slightly due to smaller berry size and clusters. The fruit was harvested in late September, yielding wines with beautifully balanced acidity, exceptional weight and texture, and complex varietal flavors.
The vineyard lies a few miles inland alongside the Santa Ynez River bench at the western end of the transverse-oriented Santa Ynez Valley. Fiddlestix receives a consistent marine influence from Pacific currents, but sits low enough against the hills to achieve some protection from the area’s strong afternoon winds. Exposure to coastal breezes and fog ensures cooling influences throughout extended sunny days, which helps to add depth and vibrancy to the fruit. Temperatures are rarely above the mid 70’s. In 35 small blocks on 96 acres, a variety of rootstocks and clones are planted in well-draining Gazos and Batella clay loam and calcareous marine shale providing complexity and diversity to the vineyard. Nearby are some of California’s most famed and historic Pinot Noir vineyards.
The grapes for this wine were harvested at night to preserve freshness and integrity. They were placed in open-top fermenters for 3-5 days of cold maceration followed by fermentation. A small percentage of the grapes were left as whole cluster to preserve the buoyancy of aromatics of the fruit and to add structure and refinement to the wine. Punch downs were performed during the early stages of fermentation with the extraction becoming gentler as the wine became dry, and followed with a quiet extended maceration to help modify the richness and mouthfeel of the wine. The wine was lightly pressed into small French oak barrels where it rested for 12 months.
For more than a decade Jon has fashioned Etude wines with a simple creed. Inspired winegrowing diminishes the need for a winemaker to intervene in the cellar. Whether sourcing from the estate Grace Benoist Ranch in Sonoma's Los Carneros, or vineyards like Fiddlestix and North Canyon in famed growing regions of California's Central Coast, his focus is on coaxing the very best from the vineyard. It shows in every glass of Etude.
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